by Dr.Moira Borg MD Gestalt Psychotherapist
In the wake of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, the crass divide and polarity in the public’s opinion of her was very striking – at times one would have been safe to doubt if people were talking about the same person at all. Perhaps this comes to as no surprise with a public figure of her tenure; what many might overlook however, is that every one of us, even in the smaller boundaries of our world, usually carry the same polar perception to those around us, even if in varying proportions.
I believe that the one of the first challenges that we have to condone with in our existence is that, no matter how hard we try, we can never enjoy the full approval of the world around us. In his one of his many reflective fables, The Man, The Boy and the Donkey, Greek philosopher Aesop not only highlights this human dilemma but also warns us of the deleterious effects it can have on the existence of those who choose to live by it. The loss of The Donkey, whose sale at the market meant the survival of The Man and his son, could well be seen as the loss of valuable aspects of ourselves or people around us when we get lost in the saga of the ‘perfect image’ and the quest of the perennial limelight.
As I am writing this piece, I am sitting in the ethereal beauty of Hyde Park while autumn leaves gently let themselves fall back to the earth that nourished them, dogs of all breeds bolt after elusive squirrels and the rest of metropolitan London bustles vibrantly on the outskirts. Back home the late Ms.Caruana Galizia is being laid to eternal rest. In this eternal cycle where life and death play the same elusive game as the hound and the squirrel, the human being, whoever and wherever he is hopes for one thing – the acknowledgment, even if not the appreciation, of his existence especially to those whose lives and souls he/she would have touched the most.
Ultimately, the most fulfilling existence that we can garner for ourselves is the freedom to be who we really want to be, naturally within the margins of social decency, and to be able to express that to those around us without unfair judgement or worse still slander or marginalisation. Unfortunately many of us have experienced this painful social rejection which usually stems from our inherent resistance to accept each other’s difference. In fact according to Jung (The Undiscovered Self, 1957) the human being in general prefers to lose his/her individuality in favour of belonging and being accepted – “The bigger the crowd the more negligible the individual becomes….. individuals judgment grows increasingly uncertain of itself and that responsibility is collectivized as much as possible, i.e., is shuffled off by the individual and delegated to a corporate body. In this way the individual becomes more and more a function of society……… “ (p 10 ).
Given this unforgiving social phenomenon, our choice hinges on being ourselves and risk isolation or trying to conform and settle for uniformity and complacency. Whatever our choice turns out to be we need to be aware that it is our full responsibility and cannot be projected to any third person(s) or entity(ies). We also need to acknowledge that this one choice decides our legacy both in our lifetime and beyond. After all the best legacy we can leave behind is ourselves.