Most bigotry repulses me. But I do have one prejudice of my own. I loathe everything about pushy clueless brazen people. No matter the race or gender. Not the uniform. Not the take charge types with good boundaries who assign themselves their own tasks, and organize others who belong to their team. No, I’m talking about the types who mind others business they have no business minding. Another prejudice, they are usually church ladies. And as I think about why it bothers me so much, I remember that control and pushiness is at the bull’s-eye of abuse. When you are trying to control and push me, you are abusing me. When I’m attempting to control someone, I am disregarding that person as an individual. As an intact other who is entitled to make choices about his or her life. Controlling people usually arrive with a smile on the face. They think they are so subtle, when they are not. They use especially cheerful words. A simple ‘no thank you’ to their demands will reveal how friendly their interchange was really intended to be.
Control is a good thing in some settings. Of corse there are laws in place that must be reinforced. Laws for controlling my behavior and yours. And there are consequences that also act as prevention for certain behavior. When I steal an item, the enforcement of a law is in place to stop me from stealing. I might have to pay a fine or do time, depending on the kind of stealing. The consequence of stealing, beyond doing time, might be loosing my reputation. Making it very hard to find a job or hold a position in the community.
Many would argue that controlling another is a healthy thing to do, such as a child. They suggest that if you don’t, the law will. I know one thing, we can guide, and educate, and give consequences, but we can not control another person without abusing. Take teaching a child to eat something they do not like. Horrific abuse has been perpetrated upon children around eating. A child can be introduced to a food. They can be encouraged to eat it (take a couple bites and then you can have your favorite juice), but when the child decides they do not want to eat any of what is being introduced, forcing a child to eat – shoving it down their throat, or feeding the child this food for days until the child eats it happily – is to abuse. It is to degrade the human right to make decisions as an individual. Children will not die from not loving peas, but they can die from abuse. And if they don’t physically die, a part of them dies when control is pushed upon them. So much could be said about parenting and control. It’s the parent’s job to give the child an ability to control himself or herself by using routines, encouragement, boundaries, consequences, etc… Much of the time, children can be persuaded to eat peas by kind words and encouragement; “let’s take one tiny bite, I’ll take my bite, you take yours, ready, set, go.”
Most issues in life concerning control don’t center around peas. They are about what I assume you need to be doing, and what you assume I need to be doing.
Say it together, shall we;
I don’t get to decide what you should be doing. I can communicate with you my concerns, if our relationship is a collaborative one. However if I don’t have a relationship with you, and you don’t have one with me, we don’t need to be telling each other what we think the other should be doing. If we do have a relationship, for the sake of our relationship we might share our own feelings about something that is or isn’t being done in the others life. We are our BROTHERS keeper. Which implies empathy and love. Not our brothers busy body, controlling pushy judgmental know-it-all.
Next time we think of how to ‘make’ her do it, ‘get’ him to behave, ‘put a foot down’, we must remember, we are acting as an abuser, and I’m pretty sure you and I both would rather not be abusive, regardless of the wish to control another person’s behavior.