2015-12-21

Friendships and Communities are Personality Amplifiers

Friendships and communities are personality amplifiers.  Never do we feel as justified in our beliefs and actions as we do among others who have propensities or tendencies toward common beliefs and actions—no matter whether those beliefs and actions are good or bad.  The unconscious feeling of justification we gain from each other inevitably leads to a growth in those feelings and actions within the individual members of the friendship or community.  So, the reason I say that community and friendship amplify personality is not just a matter of that personality being recognized among a larger number of people.  It truly grows within each person as a consequence of being validated by the others in the group.

The example that prompted this thought is my two little boys.  They are two years apart: one is three, the other is five.  They are the best of friends—it seems they do everything together.  When one wants to act like he is a puppy by crawling around on the floor with his tongue hanging out of his mouth, the other will always follow.  I have a third boy who is 11.  He was not given the luxury of having a male sibling close enough in age that I would call them "friends".  I can now see how personality is amplified by friends.  The older boy might have gotten into a small amount of trouble once in a while on his own, but the two younger boys are constantly out of control when they are together.  I watch them carefully.  If one of them takes offense at my denying him an extra cartoon and he decides to express his being offended with weeping and wailing, the other—not quite instantaneously—follows suite.  And this pattern goes for positive behavior as well.  If one boy—miraculously—decides that it might be fun to obey his parent's wish to do some cleaning, the other boy will go right along with the game.

I hesitate to complete my thought, though it is such a natural progression.  I hesitate knowing the pain out there in the world caused by beliefs and actions that were amplified beyond all rational proportion.  Terrorism is a community first, and a force of destruction second.  It makes little difference whether that community is a local community or an online community.  Yet, at the same time, community can amplify the most positive beliefs and actions.  This is why it is so important to have a church, a synagogue, a mosque—any community built on positive beliefs and actions.  If we are to ever hope to progress, morally, spiritually, ethically, as far as we are capable, we must live in a community of like-minded people—and interact regularly.



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