To continue with the analogy "a hall of ugly mirrors," I first saw the ugliness in my reflection as a child. Although my parents continually counseled me on good and evil, the latter seemed more enjoyable. And in our family of six children, I experimented with iniquity. Therefore, the image staring back at me was rather hideous then.
As a child, I wasn't anything to write home about: Horned-rimmed glasses, scrawny physique, and a hideous haircut. Due to these attributes, other kids often picked on, and bullied me. Therefore, any chance I had to do likewise seemed like a gift from heaven. And my siblings were the likely targets.
There was my older sister who primped for hours in front of our only bathroom mirror. With six children in the family and two adults, I thought this rather excessive. Back then, I frequently directed my malice toward her. But I also had an older brother who purposefully ignored me until it was time to deflect blame in another direction. He deserved some retribution, I thought. The two younger girls were simply irritating. They incessantly whined to, and needled the closest family member about one thing or another. Neither did they allow an opportunity to pat themselves on the back go by. It was sickening. I picked on them as a matter of principle. No one should take the easy road without falling into a few cracks. It's a theory of mine.
Lastly, my youngest brother and I seldom crossed paths. As he wasn't on my radar often enough to justify any ill will, I exempted him from my "singling out" period and hurtful behavior.
I explained all this away as childishness. After all, I was a child.
My mother, on the other hand, saw it for what is was: Negative behavior in the making. And she never let any of it slide without a few stern words of wisdom. Oh, she never yelled or screamed, mind you. It wasn't in her nature. She would simply sit me down and explain -- in detail -- why my malevolence, aimed at my brothers and sisters, was immoral. Her loving demeanor touched my heart every time. I felt awful many times over.
What does all this have to do with amorous relationships, one might ask?
Our childhoods influence our adult identities. How we relate to friends, loved ones, associates, and even strangers are -- in part -- molded by the proper, or improper, guidance we receive during these fundamental years.
My mother made me see things beyond the minute scope of a ten year old. But not everyone is that fortunate. This I know. I often hear of those whom have had abusive parents or none at all. But are they excused later in life -- as adults -- for not being able to distinguish what is good, righteous, and true from what is bad, evil, and wrong?
As simple as it sounds, shouldn't we treat others as we wish to be treated?
Does the abused child not know that abuse is wrong -- in any form? Does the selfish individual not know that taking and never giving is wrong?
A few more examples…
Does a robber want to be robbed? Does a liar like to be lied to? Does a cheater enjoy being cheated on? The answer to all these questions is the same. And barring any neuroses, the average Joes and Janes know what it is.
In relationships, it is the same. Does the yelling wife like to be yelled at? Does the lazy husband want a sloth for a wife? Does the overbearing boyfriend want a domineering girlfriend? And so on. Interchange the above when needed.
The lessons of respect, honor, truthfulness, and righteousness are ubiquitous. But we must seek them out. They do not come calling for us.
Furthermore, we're not omniscient. We all need proper guidance at some time or another; in some form or another. If we do not find in one place, then it is our duty as part of the human race to explore, investigate, and discover it elsewhere.
How long can we gaze at our reflections and see the injustice we do ourselves and others when we ignore our shortcomings, immorality, dishonesty, and decadence? When will we finally see that the person who needs to change is staring back?