On Control and Manipulation

(Author in his educator daze. Benevolent manipulation and control?)

In 1972, I remember realizing, about halfway through my third year u modern American Literature course, that most, if not all of the selections, were about the theme of manipulation and control–a reflection of basic drives and passions in human beings and human nature.

The California couple who imprisoned and tortured their 12 kids illustrate that idea, albeit on the far end of an aberrant variation. Indeed, that theme runs through just about everything these days whether it’s companies controlling consumers and their workers, Trump trying to control the U.S. government and manage his Tweets after the fact, women fighting back against men through Me Too, etc. Control and manipulation happens in and through government, institutions, home, the workplace, and especially relationships.

Is it any wonder that so many people choose not to marry these daze, trying to maintain their individual freedom or divorce quickly and often. Agendas abound. People are in very different mental places with unrealistic expectations. Often, there are battles for control of property, belongings, the kids, even pets. When I listen to someone else talk, I note all the various attempts to control and manage in their talk and lives. It seems like everyone has an agenda as well as an axe to grind (The Complaining Species–subject of another forthcoming blog entry).

No, this theme never went away for me and it was a key factor in making a life change at 40 and retiring early from teaching back in 2002. (Freedom 52.) I’ve often talked of personal freedom and choosing it first and foremost in one’s life. The liberation of self. Ironically, too, I was a manipulator and controller as an educator for 30 years. One has to be if one is going to teach. There were many choices along the way that I made for myself, kids, other teachers, parents, and to teach the curriculum well. So, in retrospect, I would have to say that there are some forms of benevolent control that pass muster, unlike the more damaging, cruel, and destructive forms such as that portrayed and practised by the California couple who are, ultimately, just plain Evil.

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