My eternal Nature .v. Nurture debate
(THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST PUBLISHED ON YNAIJA)
"I am my father’s daughter, I am my mother’s child, have hair like my grandmother, I smile like my grandpa… Heritage, that’s what makes me me”
Those are lines from a song, ‘Heritage’, by CON.tra.diction and they ring in my ear regularly. Everything i am, i can seem to link to one parent or the other. And if all else fails, i dig up a grandpa. It works out when i am having a good day- i can thank genetics for getting some things right. But on days when i feel less than perfect, i also feel helpless. Thanks to genetics, i can’t reach certain heights (literally) and have to watch what goes to my hips (thanks grandma).
I once studied criminology in university and was so fascinated by the theories of crime out there, that i based my final year project on the Nature .v. Nurture debate. Are criminals born or made? That was my question and the project tried to answer it by digging up various theories and studies. For example, i found a study of twins separated at birth who still ended up living almost similar lives. Infact, there was one set of twins, girls, who ended up marrying men working in similar fields. And on the day they showed up to meet each other for the first time, dressed alike.
It was uncanny.
But is nature truly to blame for everything? And should it get credit for the good we do? I saw an old picture of my dad; his column in a newspaper. I realise that just like him, i sing and write. And like my mum, i do a lot of business. Would i be a writer if i was born into another home? Was it innate, or was it just watching him work that inspired me? Truth is, i grew up with a musician as a dad; the writer i met through pictures and history.. Then there is that energy my sister and i seem to have. Meet my dad and you may wonder where it comes from. He is a very calm, jovial easy going fellow. Meet my mum, and then you’ll see energy! She still wakes up before i do and goes to bed after me and seems to be everywhere, taking care of every issue, at the same time.
Nature surely, must get the credit there
Nurture theorists beg to differ. According to them, we are not what we were born with, but what we were developed to be. It is the things we watch, or things that are said to us that shape us. So if you take a child from a good home and you raise him with criminals, he will grow up to be a criminal while his siblings will be pillars of society (as we like to say here).
Think about it. If the nature theorists win the debate, that means you can only be as good as the genes you were born with. No point trying to be a leader if you were born into a family destined to follow. No need trying to hide in the corner if you were born a natural exhibitionist. Don’t bother trying to learn to play the guitar, your genes scream ‘medicine’, and hey, your hairline WILL recede. Your grandfather is to blame.
I battle with those thoughts constantly. And figure when nature treats me good, i will let it run its’ course. But when it comes to things i don’t want, i will give nature a run for its money.
In the end, i can only ask myself what Switchfoot asks, “This is your life… Are you who you want to be?”