“Who you are is a choice. It always has been, it still is.”
– Harvey Bullock, Gotham
Season 3, Episode 22, “Heaveydirtysoul”
For three seasons now, Gotham has been dealing with the question of who people are and the choices they make.
A number of the characters on Gotham have, at various times in their lives, been both good and evil, sometimes in astoundingly rapid succession. Many have fallen, but a few have made the long climb to rise again. The character of Jim Gordon is among the latter, but even after turning himself back to the right side of things, he was still consumed in darkness for a time. Eventually, there came a moment where he gave up.
The exact circumstances are long and complicated, but in his darkest hour, there was his best friend, Harvey Bullock, reaching to bring him back again. When Gordon is resigned to being the worst version of himself, because that is who he is, Bullock states, clearly, that it’s not. Who a person is, that is his choice. Always has been, always will be, and it certainly is right now.
That is the moment where Gordon was saved, not by his own righteous warrior spirit, but by the simple, stubborn love of friendship.
Even when we give up on the light, that doesn’t mean the light gives up on us.
I’m reminded of an old story I heard when I was young. By reputation, it features an old Native American man talking to his grandchildren. He tells them that he has two wolves inside him, constantly at war with one another. One is kind and virtuous and everything good. The other is savage, selfish, cruel, and everything evil. His grandchildren ask him which wolf is winning, and he answers, “Whichever one I feed.”
People generally aren’t all light or darkness inside. We have both, and we have a choice between the two. Sometimes that choice is clear, and sometimes it’s more vague. Sometimes we run to the light so hard that we miss it and veer off into darkness. Sometimes we turn from the light, convinced we can never know it again. And sometimes we just keep our eyes on it, and go towards it just one step at a time. That’s the healthiest option, I think.
Most important though, is to remember that just because we’ve failed once or twice or a hundred times before, this does not mean we have to give up.
No matter how bad it gets, we still have a choice, always.