So, now that you are clear about the definitions, and probably had the time to ponder over the questions I asked in the previous newsletter. Let me dwell deeper into our ‘Character’ – ‘The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an Individual.” Character can be traced back to the Greek charassein, meaning “to sharpen, cut in furrows, or engrave.” This word gave the Greeks charaktēr, a noun meaning “mark, distinctive quality” (a meaning that was shared by the Latin character). Just like the word Character can be traced back to its roots, I think it’s time to trace our ‘Characters’ to a Biology class. So here goes!!

Meet the Chromosomes. It is said, in the nucleus of each cell in our body are 23 pairs of chromosomes. One of each pair comes from our father, and the other comes from our mother. The chromosomes are made up of strands of the molecule DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), and the DNA is grouped into segments known as genes. A gene is the basic biological unit that transmits characteristics from one generation to the next.

Human cells have about 25,000 genes. The genes of different members of the same species are almost identical. The DNA in your genes, for instance, is about 99.9% the same as the DNA in my genes and in the DNA of every other human being. These common genetic structures lead members of the same species to be born with a variety of behaviours that come naturally to them and that define the characteristics of the species. These abilities and characteristics are known as instincts — complex inborn patterns of behaviours that help ensure survival and reproduction (Tinbergen, 1951). Different animals have different instincts. Birds naturally build nests, dogs are naturally loyal to their human caretakers, and humans instinctively learn to walk and to speak and understand language. Sometimes, some of these genes are more predominant in others, hence some are better skilled in these instincts and perform better. So that brings me to a question.. If Nature decides it all, then what role does nurture play in the development of our Characteristics and Personality?


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