It’s Narcissist Friday!
I recently was approached to support a local (rural) organization that smelled a whole lot like an HOA. For those who may not know, that means “Home Owners Association.” The only problem is that regular homeowners usually hate HOAs. They are excellent opportunities for local narcissists to grab a little power.
Of course, the idea of an HOA was reasonable at the beginning. Communities should be able to enforce certain behaviors, certain property management decisions for the good of all. When your neighbors’ pigs make the community smell and house values go down, someone should be able to do something (unless, of course the pigs were there before the neighborhood). Nor should a different neighbor be allowed to build an apartment complex with many small units at low rates in a single-family neighborhood. We understand these things.
What we find harder to understand is when the worst offenders against the rules are the ones in charge of the HOA. Or when they refuse to see how their property decisions affect others negatively. They can decide how close you can build your shed to the main road, but you have no voice in where they park their trailers, for example.
To be honest, I am not in an HOA. But the ability to have authority without accountability is the dream of a narcissist. Not all HOAs are run by these folks, nor are all of them hurtful. But the stories of abuses by HOA leaders are far too common to be considered even unusual. So are the stories of abuses by leaders of other kinds. Pastors, scout leaders, bosses, elected officials, billionaires, law enforcement—wherever there is an opportunity for power and control over others, you will find narcissists. And those narcissists will use people while being both inconsistent and hypocritical.
No organization is immune.
The only answer is to avoid or end organizations that focus on control. How? Frankly, that’s the question. We need government, law enforcement, and churches. But the individuals we lift up in these organizations must first be servants, real servants who care about the people they serve. The moment we see these leaders using others for their own benefit, either the leader or the organization should go.
Harsh? Have you read the news lately?