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Like a Beast

December 29, 2015
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If you were to ask me what the most attractive quality in a person is, I would not think twice; I realized that qualities like joy, love, patience, hard work… are definitely to be pursued by everyone , but one specific quality stood out as all-encompassing — Authenticity.

Authentic people are real. Let it be first understood that I’m not referring to those moments when people use lines like ‘I’m just being real’ or ‘I’m just being me’ as a license to do whatever their feelings (distorted sometimes) dictates. That is not what authenticity is.  The proof is that we don’t like it when those lines are used to hurt or do bad things to us— because they can be used that way— and certainly we don’t admire them for being authentic.

By definition something is authentic when it really is what it claims to be and so, consequently, authentic people are true people, people whose words are just a reflection of who they really are. They’re not false in the sense that they’re not hypocrites.

We know something to be authentic when it’s not a copy; i.e. it’s not fake or counterfeit. In this sense, authentic people are not just a product of a particular social convention, they don’t merely subscribe to other people’s ways of life when those values clearly are not true to their character, or their own personality. I don’t mean by this that they cannot be influenced but I do mean to say that when they are, they’re mature and careful enough not to deny what it is that makes them who they are.

A fish is being real and authentic when it is living a life that is true to its metabolism, i.e. to the way it was created: living in water. When the fish is trying to live on land, it is basically denying its nature and therefore its choices (of inauthenticity) have painful consequences. Likewise, human beings are called to live according to their natural, intellectual, emotional and spiritual metabolism.

But what is your true self, really? Who’s to decide how your true self looks like—how it behaves? Is true self something we get to define? However unclear the concept of true self can be, its demonstration is hard to miss, that is, we can really tell when someone is being truly human!

To a wolf, as to any other animal in fact, following its natural instincts is its authentic way of life. Although we have a tendency to follow the wolf’s philosophy of life (what looks good is good), we forget that human life is way more complicated than the wolf’s.

We are endowed with superior qualities that turn living to obey our impulses into an inauthentic—denying who we are—approach to life. We are rational beings with a will and with, in most cases, a capacity to differentiate between the good and the bad. We know that everything that looks good isn’t automatically good but, alas, because of the deterioration of our values, and being accustomed to the bad to the point it loses its ugliness, we have turned into the most inauthentic beings in the universe.

To go a step further in our definition, authenticity can also mean the reproduction with accuracy of something that is original. Something authentic presents the exact same features as its original version. But how, in light of this, are we to understand personal authenticity? How can we achieve authentic existence?

The author of our lives, the one who set the purpose for our humanity became flesh and dwelt among us. And in his life in the flesh, he showcased true humanity in all its beauty and glory: a life of love, integrity, peace, righteousness, humility, purity, forgiveness, sacrifice and most of all of Holy Communion with our heavenly father (the quality whereby other qualities find their meaning). He championed each of those qualities and shows, par excellence, what being human truly means.

A life not following this original model dramatized in the life of Christ is completely disconnected to its primary and original source and by implication, it suffers the consequences of inauthenticity—lack of a sense of joy or fulfillment.

“I said in my heart in regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts.”
Ecclesiastes 3:18
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