I've always believed one can not be defined as a whole based on their past. It is the path we choose forward which continually redefines us. We are accountable for the past yes and we should learn from it so we might better choose our path forward but regardless of circumstance we must stay true to the best vision of ourselves.
One thing that life's experience has forced me to think about is how one forms a picture or ideal of one's self; that bit of consciousness that peers out at the world through the eyes and without truly seeing oneself forms a mental picture of the 'self'. From our inner beings, the thoughts we think about to the outer being which is that bit of thought that when we close our eyes and imagine ourselves is the image our mind sees. For instance, when considering myself I see a rather heavy but overtly muscular man with a strong set jaw, piercing blue eyes and dirty brown hair which is just slightly graying. Contrast this to what I see in the mirror when I stand before one in the morning and it has very little resemblance to what my mind has made me out to be. Consider then the imaginary internal man I've constructed for myself. This man is honorable, loving, patient, kind, thoughtful, wise and strong and the reality is probably very far from that. I know that I am sometimes not honorable, can be cold and insensitive, selfish, self-centered, childish and cruel. How then does a man reckon one with the other? I'm not quite sure but I think your on the right track. I believe that track begins with self analysis and not accepting the lies we tell ourselves. I lie to myself all the time and haven't quite come to that point where I am able to call myself a liar. I am working on it though.
I consider what love is and I start there. It seems to be the antithesis of where I started from so I struggle everyday to move to a place where I am kind and selfless. In all honesty I fail miserably a lot of the time. But I am trying.
I begin with the 'self' because if one considers that which makes up our society as individual human beings comprising the whole it is easier to see how we look out upon or fellows within this society and pass much harsher judgments upon those who we feel have wronged the whole than we would impose upon ourselves. It is very easy for each of us to look upon the sin of another and pass the harshest of judgments and condemn the perpetrator as something less than ourselves; baser than we could ever be. What we fail to look at or consider is the person. We see a felon, or a criminal and subconsciously we categorize them with out feeling and whilst not spoken aloud we caste the moniker of 'evil' upon them. Yet we fail to see our own sin. We fail to realize that in each of us there is evil and it has nothing to do with Satan. Most people will not look upon their own 'true' face yet cry out against others whose sins are brought into the light.
Today, being older, I consider men and myself differently. I look upon my fellows in this maelstrom which is life and I see the child they were and the at the center of it all I see myself as I was and wonder how I can make the man that I am into the man I think I am which is to say the man I should be. To those that throw stones ignoring the planks in their own eyes who chide me for holding onto my stone I say "I am not without sin and I will not throw the righteous judgment I deserve upon another." Perhaps above all else I have learned that regardless of whether or not a man is religious these words hold true: "Let he who is with out sin cast the first stone."