"We've all got both light and dark inside of us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are."
So...Malcolm X chooses to kill a person this year, and according to Sirius it is who Malcolm X REALLY is. And when Malcom X later genuinely regrets the kill and chooses to save a life next year, according to Sirius it also is who Malcolm X REALLY is. No, wait...What? Decide already, Sirius! Is Malcolm's true self light or dark, is he really a good guy or a bad guy?! What about his feelings during and right after the killing? Do those not matter at all for the person he really is?
As in, I don't fully agree with Sirius.
1. Yes, we've all got both light and dark inside of us and what matters is which part we choose to act on.
2. Yes, our choices make us who we are.
3. But who we REALLY are, does not that simply walk hand in hand with our choices between dark and light.
---> The choices we make is part of who we are, but we still have a chance to show who we REALLY are. After all, our choices depend on the point of view from which we look at a matter. While finding our personal, finished view of the world and values is a long process and usually even the base of it isn't set before early adult years.
This falls under the fact that people can change but no one ever changes thorhoughly. Reaction is much more genuine part of you than a choice you make. That's why it tells more about your true self than the choice you made. Of course everything ends into a choice, so it matters too. Point being: Malclm X might choose to do bad things - that's who he is. But who he REALLY is, is shown by his reactions to the consequences of his choice, and by what those reactions make him choose next.
But Sirius' statement labels every choice at all times as a sign of who one REALLY is, and hence the above I think that's black-and-white thinking and thus doesn't hold water.
---> Mental illness. People may do bad things when mentally ill, but I think it unfair to label them as REALLY the kind of persons they act like. If they really were, they'd been born like that instead of choosing to do them later in life due to circumstances breaking them. And there'd be no sense in trying to help and cure them but professional helpers do try.
Sirius' statement does not seem to regard this at all.
I think Sirius' thinking is rather black-and-white and the quote a bit over-rated.
I think the problem is that some of this series' heroes and villains are rather...one-dimensional? One-dimensional may be the wrong word choice but I mean how Sirius, Harry and Hermione (for a few examples) were always the perfect Gryffindors who were never tempted by their dark side, Peter Pettigrew was the cowardly black sheep of Gryffindor who apparently couldn't get a grasp on to the light inside him, and Voldemort was the psychopath with no empathy or abiluty to understand love. The light in him never had the chance to win in the first place.
Perhaps Sirius' statement isn't Rowling's own opinion but Sirius' because of how he himself was and how Peter Pettigrew was? I'm pretty sure he first and foremost formed his view upon what happened to the Marauders and particularly between himself and Wormtail, and how opposite personalities he and Peter were.
I think good examples of my point number 3 and why I partially disagree with Sirius, are characters like Albus Dumbledore and Barty Crouch Jr.
Young Albus Dumbledore took part in bad things and values - because he was in love with a wizard who practiced dark magic. I don't remember exactly how far their dark plans went in practical level before Albus turned away, but the point is he did act on his dark side. Maybe not purely as it was supposedly "for the greater good", but still, he saw it included dark and illegal things yet chose to take part. Yet acting on that side was not who he really was. In the end he showed his true self by fighting Grindelwald and regretting his former beliefs and plans, and by turning into the wise old man we know him as.
We don't know much about young Barty Crouch Jr. but we do know this:
- He chose the path of a Death Eater, a servant of the current Dark Lord.
- He may or may not have tortured two people into madness.
- Rowling put much weight on the thought that he did not torture them.
- He showed fear and desperation in the trial.
- He believed Voldemort was alive.
- Yet he lost his will to live as in was dying within a year in Azkaban.
The three last mentioned reveal that even though he chose to act on his dark side, it wasn't who he REALLY was. Because the person who he really was, naturally showed in the inhumane circumstances of Azkaban prison. He was not able to bear Azkaban. If he really was a cold-blooded torturer-murderer who belonged to the dark side, he should've been able to take it instead of about to die within a year. Darkness doesn't suffer and die in darkness. Light does. Devoted servants of evil don't die in evil places. People to whom something else matters more, do die in evil places. Young Barty Crouch Jr. chose to act on the darkness inside him but it wasn't who he REALLY was.
He never got the chance to act on his light part again because of the trial breaking his heart and killing his faith in his loved ones (and so his heart grew back twisted), and the year in Azkaban and 12 more under Imperius Curse made him mentally ill. Thus, naturally his choices that folloed, were not who he REALLY was. It was just what he had become because of his mental state being horribly damaged for 13 years. Seeing to his original self, changing circumstances could've changed him too, back towards his truer self. Nowhere near all the way back because of the damage in his mind, but still. Too bad Rowling killed him off immediately after revealing the basis of his wonderful character development.
My brother Mikael once said something I think was quite wisely said:
"Thinking in black-and-white is dishonesty towards life."
- Mikael Haikola