Most bigotry repulses me. I’ll admit it. I have one prejudice. I loathe everything about pushy people. No matter the race or gender, whether wearing a uniform or not. Not the take-charge types with good boundaries who assign themselves their own tasks, and organize others around a task. 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 are at the bulls-eye of abuse. If this topic irritates you, it’s written for you. When you are trying to control and push, you are abusing the one you are pushing and controlling. When I’m attempting to control someone, I am disregarding that person as a unique individual with unique choices from mine. Each of us is an ‘other’ entitled to make choices about his or her life. Controlling people are almost always smiling. They think they are being subtle. Controllers use especially cheerful words. A simple ‘no thank you’ to their demands will reveal how friendly the interchange really has been. (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 prevent certain behavior. When I steal an item, the law stops me from stealing. I might have to pay a fine or do time. Additional consequences of stealing might include losing 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. 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. A child can be introduced to food. They can be encouraged to eat it (take a couple bites and then you can have your favorite treat), but when a child decides they do not want to eat any of what is being introduced, to force a child to eat – shove it down their throat, or only offering the child the disagreeable food until the child eats it happily – that control 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 their spirits die from abuse. 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.
Which is disrespect of another’s
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 have a relationship, we might share our own feelings with each other about a concern. We are our BROTHERS keeper. Which implies empathy and love. Not our brother’s controller.
Next time you think of how to ‘make’ her do it, ‘get’ him to behave, ‘I’m going to put my foot down’, remember, you are acting the part of an abuser. And most of us wouldn’t care to participate in the abuse of another person.