I found myself in a discussion on personalities, idiosyncrasies, complexes etc. during the weekend. We are a complicated species and you have to wonder if the animal world experiences the same sort of thing but on, obviously, different levels. We all know the timid dog or cat, the bully of a tom-cat, the just-plain mean dog, but we usually attribute their characters to their owners. I wonder if that is all there is to it – nurture or is it that same conundrum we face: is it nature or nuture?
One of the topics broached was Charles Manson and the influence he had on the people who surrounded him. With a couple of exceptions, the majority of the people were no different from you, from your neighbour or myself. Normal individuals taken as such, but in this group, they were turned into human nightmares. Monsters. I do not believe any of the women who were, eventually, jailed for the Tate and Labianca murders would have even have dreamed of such atrocities on their own. There was a perfect storm of poison. A storm with Charles Manson as the eye, the catalyst.
Looking at this from a less dramatic example; one of my sons had a best friend throughout elementary school. Apart, they were wonderful little boys but together? Dennis the Menace could have taken lessons. They played off each other, what mischief one didn’t think of, the other would and together, they would carry it out. Not much thinking involved, they were, after all, young boys with imaginations and intelligence.
These are two extremes; one terrifying and one harmless but both are examples of the dynamics of human relationships and the powerful impact, sometimes devastating effects, not only on the people involved but the social circles, the community and possibly, even the world, at large. Would Adolf Hitler have managed the unspeakable acts attributed to his regime, were it not for his friends and companions?
Josef Stalin; mind you, he was his own perfect storm and “friend” was really relative to his state of mind (or lack thereof). However, without that “little help” from his friends, his dictatorship would never have happened.
Bernardo and Homolka. Personally, I believe, absolutely, Bernardo would have continued to rape with or without the help of Karla Homolka but together, they were monsters. I doubt Homolka would have gone on to any sort of criminal activity had it not been for the melding of the two personalities – his and hers.
We all want to be loved, we all crave companionship, friendship, the security of knowing someone out there has, “Got yer back Jack!” Sometimes, however, the want is born of desperation and instead of searching for that soul mate, for the best choice of friends, we allow telltale signs that something isn’t right to be ignored, explained away, falling deeper and deeper into an unhealthy, potential maelstrom of domination, lies and glamours. The friendship or love that we seek, the mirror of ourselves, turns dark and cloudy – potentially swallowing us whole.
We need to love ourselves first; to understand ourselves and to accept what we are, change what we can because we choose to change but always remember that we are unique. We are one of a kind. No one has the right to direct where we should go, what we should do, say or how to behave. It is through this lack of self-love, of not being able to accept who we are and why we are, that the unhealthy relationships are permitted to take hold and slowly smother our identities until there is nothing of the true individual left. Relationships are partnerships, one part of equal importance to the other and both require the maturity to balance the dynamics out into something healthy, something that allows each party to grow. Anything less is poison to the soul.