“It’s not who I am inside, but what I do that defines me.”
– Batman/Bruce Wayne, Batman Begins
Last week, I talked about about how our appearance is not who we are. By same token, flip side of the coin, it’s not what’s inside that defines us either, it’s what we do with what’s inside.
Bruce Wayne is a rather peculiar example of this. He’s not what he appears to be, particularly since that appearance is a grand facade to throw off any suspicion of his double-identity as Batman. Yet the facade is part of who he is, because he has made careful choices to craft it in such-and-such a way. But who he really is, the identity he has chosen to be, is Batman, the man who is feared by all manner of criminals, who is respected by heroes, and who makes his inner darkness submit to him in service to his crusade. Quite a man, that, to hold his demons in such perfect check.
There are countless examples of people who are or have been in abusive relationships. They’re stuck in such partially because they believe, on some level, that no matter how bad the other person is, no matter how poorly their companion treats them, they’re really a good person on the inside. I cannot speak to that. I can only speak to how the abuser has chosen to hurt their victim, over and over and over. What’s inside is irrelevant when what’s outside is obviously dangerous.
On the bright side, there are also countless examples of people who do good, yet are hung up on their own inner darkness. Others, of lesser character, love pointing that out, that everyone’s somehow an evil schemer just like them. But whatever evil is within, so long as it is contained, so long as a man chooses to do good instead of evil with his words and actions, that, and not the darkness, is who he is.
Then there are those who are so valiant and virtuous within, yet they do nothing with it. Light which is hidden is worthless, and all the posturing and self-assurance and beliefs in the world are worthless without the deeds to prove them. We are only as good as what we do. It is our actions which give true life to our beliefs.
In short… we should judge others not based on appearance, and not based on what we think is behind that appearance, but based on what they say and do.
The same holds true for judging ourselves.