“Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” - Oscar Wilde
We all have pasts and experiences that define us, but it’s good to consider that the definition is variable. What is evil, illegal, and sinful in one era, may be mainstream and forward thinking in another. Just as saintly behavior often becomes closed minded.
Good and evil, and those who do each, are not drawings in black and white, but in living color. What speaks to people in the quote, undoubtedly, is its leveling of identity. Saints can have checkered pasts and Sinners can have bright futures. We can all change, so stop labeling.
Oscar Wilde is an embodiment of this quote he created. He was Sinner in his day -- jailed for homosexuality followed by an impoverished death in hiding. But he is a modern day Saint thanks to his forward thinking about feminism and all marginalized people in Victorian era society. He is now such a Saint, in fact, his grave had to be enclosed in glass as it was crumbling under the weight of thousands of lipstick kisses.
This quote was not said by Wilde himself, but by one of his characters in A Woman of No Importance. The quote is uttered by a tragic figure within the play -- a man well regarded by all in high society. A Saint to others, but a known Sinner to himself.
And so the quote also represents, in the case of Wilde’s character, how people are not always what they project; not always what they seem. Again, the quote is a leveling force between Saint and Sinner. In this moment, you are who you are, but each moment defines you as equally as the past or future. No one is born good or evil.Every Saint has a past and every Sinner has a future, so hold your labels and judgments. Define your values. Define yourself.