Essay Contest 2012 - Top 3 Entries
Joe Gleason, Columbia High School
Identity is an intricate web strung together by the silk of one's actions throughout their lifetime. Yet, behind every action, lies the motivation that led to the decision whether just or not. A motivation is a preconscious reasoning for how one might act to benefit the situation at hand. Motivations can lead people to take a broad spectrum of actions from something as innocent as mustering up the courage to ask out the girl who sits next to you in class enabling for the rise of selfish action as the popular boy who betrays his oldest friend for the hollow bliss of being in the spotlight. Sigmund Freud, an ingenious neurologist who created an ideology of the psyche in the late 1800's, declares there to be two halves of the greater whole of motivation. The first half is the id, or the primitive desires for instant gratification and pleasure, and secondly, the superego is the obsession of right and wrong that is imposed on everyone in society. Most unfortunately,. I understand the id to govern the majority of society's actions as many in society, whether aware or not, dream only for wealth, power, and fame.
Selfishness is a vast subject, however it is commonly involved in the decision making process. When faced with either a trip to a concert to go see one's favorite band on the entire planet or a study group session for the final exam, most often one will choose to go to the concert and enjoy themselves. One understands studying is the right decision, but there's no way ope will study before they go to that concert because it is a primitive all-controlling desire. Humans have the id programmed into their DNA and when humanity wants it, the id makes it happen. One will even talk oneself into going to the concert, to any level of irrational reasoning, to shake off any feelings of guilt in order to be pleasured. Selfishness is the seed of false action.
Another common motivator, peer pressure, quickly eliminates the superego of the individual's conscience, as one immediately has no say in his/her actions. If a group of friends is smoking on a corner before school, one understands the just action is to walk away, but the peer pressure of one's friends keeps them from moving a single step. Peer Pressure, the fear of going against one's friends, binds one to that spot and prevents the loss of friendships that one enjoys. As people age, they learn who their friends are and who are fun to be around, through their experiences of childhood. During these experiences, one's conscience is documenting what pleases oneself and whom one must maintain a friendship with at all costs. The id is always at work attempting to fill the bottomless holes of humanities desires. Motivation is powerfully influential in situations involving one's sense of dread at the loss of their peers due to a single "inconsequential" action.
There are moments of extreme danger, where one's safety or the safety of others surrounding him/her is threatened in such a way that forces one to forget the law, for one's only goals are those of drastic action and are to be completed regardless of the consequences. Such actions are as serious as murder, but are promoted by a much deeper, malevolent evil that sleeps within each and every human in this world. Hatred and vengeance are known to take complete control of people's actions and erase any semblance of reason left in them. If a woman dies the hands of a Jewish doctor, does revenge retain the ability to force her son to wreak havoc and liquidate the entire Jewish religion? History tells us yes; The Holocaust was an epidemic of hatred and bigotry promoted by one man's willingness to do the so-called "right thing to do." Anger, hatred, and revenge maintain the capacity to go inside every single human being and cause one to irrationalize simple decisions, ensuing actions that lack moral restraint. Imagine if everyone on the planet has that kind of hazardous potential, the level of aftermath would be disconcerting, to say the least.
This is not to be understood that every human being is a selfish, law-breaking scoundrel who strolls the streets killing others at will. A large percentage of the world is, in some degree, selfless and willing to put its safety in harms way before others to protect the greater good. Such moral heroes can be found in the armed forces, the people who defend nations' borders and stand tall in the face of danger. Men and women alike defy human limits of courage to serve the greater good. Humanity's actions are not governed by only the id or the superego, but a unified combination of the two lead the majority of people in this world throughout their lifetime in an effort to carve their identity.
Motivation is, either consciously or not, influenced at some level by the primitive necessity for instant gratification that overpowers the superego in attempts to better one's life. Horrible potential resides in everybody's motivation so long as the id lay resting in each of us does not conquer humanity's actions. The actions everyone takes paint a new color on our canvas, and through experiences those colors begins to assemble into the portrayal of one's identity. Identity is a complicated concept and only lasts as long as we do. Identity is only an illusion to the bigger picture, the impact every single man and woman leaves on this world; it comprises one's legacy.