A Lesson From Charles Manson

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 13 – Charles Milles Manson is accused of leading the pack that committed a vicious, nearly unimaginable crime — the bizarre murder of five persons.

Aside from the brutality of the crime, there are two aspects about Manson the person that leap out at you and partially explain the monstrosities of which he is accused: (1) his background, which can be described as how no child should be raised, and (2) his charisma and magnetic personality that appears to come through to all people.

His mother was a teenage prostitute. He never knew either his real father or the man who gave him a last name. He was passed from home to home and from school to school. And as he grew older, he continued the irresponsible life of a person whom society has saddles with a background that’s nearly impossible to overcome.

Yet Manson possesses so charismatic a personality that he became a leader no matter where he was. One of the girls recalled that “he was magnetic. His motions were like magic, it seemed like.”

For a moment forget the Charles Manson of today and speculate on what he might have been. The man is intelligent, perceptive and charismatic. Put those qualities together with a stable family background and a decent education and it’s impossible to say what be might have become. A psychiatrist. A U.S. senator. A sociologist. A leader in any one of many creative fields.

But Charles Manson, like thousands of other Americans, had a childhood that twisted his personality in a way that made a creative adult life almost an impossibility.

Anything the American society can do to give its children a secure and loved life will reap dividends one thousand fold and more.

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