One of the best bits of advice a person hears throughout their lifetime is to be true to yourself. If you can't be true in your own mind, how can you be true to others?
Yes, it is important for each of us to stay true to our own beliefs and principles. We are told this time and time again -- from early childhood to adolescence to young adulthood and beyond. It is a somewhat universal maxim...unless it goes against societal norms. When that happens, then we are told the opposite.
For example, we still are unsure what causes pedophilia. It may be a learned behavior OR it could have something to do with messed up brain chemistry or wiring. If its origin predominantly is physiological, in nature, then a person acting on their pedophilic innate inclinations could be said to being true to themselves.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not arguing in favor of a society that gives pedophiles a green light. Their predilections harm children. I merely am offering a theoretical argument in terms of the philosophy of being oneself.
Another example concerns the act of suicide. When a person contemplates ending their own life on their own terms (or when people comment about someone's suicide after the fact) it is not uncommon to hear folks say, Think of how this will impact the other people in your life! You should weigh your pain against the pain your death will cause others.
But what if committing suicide is the most consistent expression of who they are? What if ending their own life by their own hand is the truest way for this individual to be true to her/himself?
I offer no answers here; I'm simply asking a question.
[Just in case any of you are wondering if I'm talking about my intentions in the third person, I'm not. The germ of this post originated from two suicides in the news yesterday.]