One theft, however, does not make a thief . . Action which defines a man, describes his character, is action which has been repeated over and over and so has come in time to be a coherent and relatively independent mode of behavior. At first it may have been fumbling and uncertain, may have required attention, effort, will - as when first drives a car, first makes love, first robs a bank, first stands up against injustice. If one perseveres on any such course it comes in time to require less effort, less attention, begins to function smoothly; its small component behaviors become integrated within a larger pattern which has an ongoing dynamism and cohesiveness, carries its own authority. Such a mode then pervades the entire person, permeates other modes, colors other qualities, in some sense is living and operative even when the action is not being performed, or even considered. . . . Such a mode of action tends to maintain itself, to resist change. A thief is one who steals; stealing extends and reinforces the identity of a thief, which generates further thefts, which further strengthen and deepen the identity. So long as one lives, change is possible; but the longer such behavior is continued the more force and authority it acquires, the more it permeates other constant bodes, subordinates other conflicting modes; changing back becomes steadily more difficult; settling down to an honest job, living on one's earnings becomes ever more unlikely. And what is said here of stealing applies equally to courage, cowardice, creativity . . . or any other of the myriad ways of behaving, and hence of being.

~ Allen Wheelis