I was watching YouTube clips on the Manson family recently old interviews with the killers, victims, etc. It's a fascinating story, well before my time, and unlike the inhuman tragedies of today (e.g. Columbine, Aurora) the Manson story doesn't end with "before turning the gun on himself." So there's lots of aftermath to research and learn from. John Waters even pops up in one segment to ask people to consider freeing Leslie Van Houten, one of the convicted, who seems a living example of change and whose freedom, some say, could be a symbol of rehabilitation and society's ability to forgive.
But I digress. The scary thing about the Manson story is how much intense control one meek little man had over so many. I mean he told people to go commit grisly, ghoulish murders and they did it. What the fuck?! Who does that? (Uncle Sam, put down your hand, this is a different kind of killing.)
I understand that a lot of acid was involved, and it was a revolutionary time overall, what with the Vietnam War, civil rights movement, and the Beatles still touring. But it got me thinking about the power of human influence and susceptibility. Which further got me thinking, if I could be as seductive and commanding as a young Charles Manson, but used my powers for good instead of evil, what would I preach?
(This is a perfectly healthy thought to entertain, right?)
So, here goes. If I ever move to a ranch with a bunch of wayward, gorgeous homos looking for acceptance, this is what I'd teach them:
1) Other people's opinions of you do not matter. Stop creating conversations with your friends about who thinks what of whom, and feeling like you can't relax until you change so-and-so's mind or set someone straight on why they need to not think something about you. Your feelings are authored by you, not by others, and the more you worry about whether or not other people understand you the less time you have to enjoy the party that is your life.
2) Forgive, but don't forget. Forgiveness is way, way more important for you than for the person you forgive, like your ex-boyfriend, who probably "doesn't deserve it" because he did something really painful like break up with you on your birthday by revealing that he had a 20-month affair with your best friend and they funded their last romantic getaway with money you earned at the job you hate but work so hard at to support your "loving home." OK. So, he's an ass. But, forgiving him doesn't mean you give the thumbs up for him to do that, nor does it mean putting yourself in a position where it can happen again. It means acknowledging that this is a fucked up world where people do fucked up shit and we only hurt ourselves when we stay angry about it. Really. Otherwise, the next guy you try to date is gonna smell the deep resentment and bitterness you harbor from your inability to forgive your last boyfriend and that stench will make it impossible to cuddle.
3) Don't be sarcastic. You can be more creative than that. Sarcasm is veiled anger. It's no substitute for a sense of humor. Give yourself a little test: see how long you can go without being sarcastic at all, and notice if your thoughts change. Notice how many times you reword your sarcastic "joke" into a bona fide complaint or mean-spirited criticism, and then maybe decide not to say it at all 'cause it's just plain negative. It's eye-opening. Also, it's been my experience that silently refusing to be sarcastic encourages others to drop their own sarcasm and suddenly, without much work, everyone is having a way nicer time.
4) Think for yourself. Don't let some crazy alluring* guy in a gay rag tell you how to live.
*[Note to editor: Please don't separate those adjectives with a comma.]
Follow Homer on Twitter @HomerMarrs.