I'm currently wrapping up a research report on the Chinese boxer rebellion. If you don't know much about it I won't think any less of you. I didn't either until a month ago. It was just a glitch in history that had always intrigued me, but not enough so that I actually bothered learning much about it. It's also difficult to find material on the subject. Just so we're on similar wave lengths, the rebellion was basically Chinese civilians wrapped up in mysticism who fell in hate with foreigners and their religion (Christianity). They built up a society to rid the country of them (China had been closed for so long). The empress supported them (the Boxers) in a round about way. At the great end they trapped foreigners (many missionaries) in cities and attacked. Lasted a couple months before the countries the foreigners came from rescued them. There's your history lesson for today. Now I'll get to the essence of my post.
What would I do if I was Chinese back then? Maybe I would be convert fighting to protect myself and my missionaries. Maybe I would just be a peasant trying to stay out of the way. Or, maybe, I would be part of the society. A red lantern girl. Able to float on air and start a fire by waving a fan.
Probably depends largely on the circumstances. And that's scary. If I were born at any time in history how much would it change who I am? This is even scarier, I can identify with the Boxers. If I use honesty and my vivid imagination I can seriously imagine myself fighting with them. I can play this game throughout history. Here's me laughing at Noah and his crazy plans. I can see myself giving thumbs down to gladiators in ancient Rome. I can picture myself jeering at bloody Mary's burnings. Look, there I am hitting my black servant in colonial America. And, maybe worst of all, I can understand the Hitler youth. If I lived back there back then I likely would've worshipped Hitler with the rest of them. Believed in his cause. Been caught up in the power and everything. It makes me cringe. (Parallel journeys and red scarf girl. Recommended reads)
Of course, I can also place myself on the good end throughout history. Basically the opposite of everything listed above. Although quite often I have to make the circumstances different. There's obviously no way I can find out who I'd be. I just hope that's I'd make the right decisions wherever I am. And that I'm making the right decisions now. It all comes down to how much you're born with and how much you grow with.
History teaches you a lot more then history.