Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Road Less Traveled

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Guilt and shame are two of the primary tools that we use to control
each other. Think of the last time you had a conflict with another person.
How much of the conflict arose from the fact that they were trying to either
assert control over you, guilt you into doing something or shame you because
of who you were?


I read a book in April, The Road Less Traveled, and it made it crystal
clear the way guilt, shame and control factor into our day to day lives.

Apparently, last April was when I was suppose to read it because within
6 days of each other I lost my job and my roommate read me the riot act,
so I decided that it was time to move. The job situation, I anticipated and
already had begun to make moves to transition to another gig. The roommate
situation caught me off guard, and came across as a clear desire to assert
control over me, when it appeared that was I vulnerable and without
options. Clearly, that was a bad move on her end.

In the midst of all these life changes I was reading "The Road Less Traveled".

The book is incredible for three reasons. First it sets forth the nature of control
and how human beings would rather control others than control themselves.

Second, it sets forth a definition of love as "the willingnesses to extend yourself
for the spiritual growth of another".

Thirdly, it talks about what it means to love each other and to love children.

I am always fascinated when I hear people talk about how they arn't going
to spoil their kids. It is easier said then done. When you are tired,
and they are whining or crying and giving them that new bratz doll or video
game will bring you a moment of peace, it is easy to see how we get on the road to
spoiledville. Dr. Peck addresses the issue of love and discipline when he
writes,

Love is not simply giving, it is judicious giving and judicious withholding as well. It is judicious praising, judicious criticizing. It is judicious arguing, struggling, confronting, urging, pushing and pulling in addition to comforting. It is leadership. The word judicious means requiring judgment, and judgment requires more than instinct. It requires thoughtful and often painful decisionmaking.
Once we recognize that life is a series of problems to be solved then we
are in the position to make things happen. Dr. Peck addresses this issue
when he writes,
Life is difficult....Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult. Instead they moan...Life is a series of problems. Do we want to moan or do we want to solve them. Do we want to teach our children to solve them?

...Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life's problems. It will be come clear that these tools are techniques of suffering, means by which we experience the pain of problems in such a way as to work them through and solve them successfully, learning and growing in the process. When we teach ourselves and our children discipline, we are teaching them and ourselves how to suffer and also how to grow.
Discipline and self examination go hand in hand. One of the reasons
why I have the courage to criticize hip hop, is because
I have found the courage to criticize myself. It isn't easy. No one wants
to have their personal contradictions staring them in the face. It makes you
feel like an idiot. However, I know that life for me, is always, changing
and moving, and I rarely have the same problem twice. Dr. Peck talks about the
importance of self examination when he writes,
Examination of the world without is never as personally painful as the world within and it is certainly because the pain involved in a life of genuine self examination that the majority steer away from it. Yet when one is dedicated to the truth this pain seems relatively unimportant- and less and less important (and therefore less painful) the farther one proceeds down the path of self examination.
I often write about hip hop and the problem with our passive acceptance of the
messages we get from Hip Hop and the media at large. I was reminded
of this in Dr. Peck's chapter on love. In the following paragraph, he discuses
the way that passive dependence can impact a persons life. He writes,
Passive dependent people lack self discipline. They are unwilling or
unable to delay gratification of their hunger for attention. In their
desperation to form and preserve attachments they throw honesty
to the winds. They cling to outworn relationships when they should
give them up. Most important, they lack a sense of responsibility for
themselves.They passively look to others, frequently to their own
children, as the source of their happiness and fulfillment, and therefore
when they are not happy or fulfilled they basically feel that others are
responsible.
I started this post off talking about guilt and shame. Last night, I was reminded
of both guilt and shame and of how children are socialized to treat each other.
We say that "kids are mean", but in reality they aren't. They are taught at a young
age that to make yourself feel better you have to pounce verbally or physically
on someone else.

I watch people. I watch the little things that they do that indicate a desire
to control the situation they are in. The desire to control others runs deep.
Birkhold said something amazing to me yesterday about control that
I haven't quite been able to shake. He said that one of the
reasons that I feel the way that I do is because I am more vulnerable than
I am in control and that this is a sign of being a healthy human being.
I, of course don't like it. I feel like I am standing at the edge of a cliff, looking
over it.

However, I know that being around people who like to control me and others
feels like a hazing ritual so it is affirming to know that while it is uncomfortable
at the moment, that the discipline and the ability to sit with the suffering is
being cultivated.

When was the last time someone tried to assert control over you?

How did you handle it?


Do you see yourself as a "control freak"?
If yes, how do you
reconcile your desire to control others with the avoidance
of
wanted to control yourself?

7 comments:

BeautyinBaltimore said...

Mdot posts like this are the reason I love your blog.

Guilt and shame are two of the primary tools that we use to control
each other


Real Talk!
This is also the way that a lot of religions operate.



Most important, they lack a sense of responsibility for
themselves.They passively look to others, frequently to their own
children, as the source of their happiness and fulfillment, and therefore
when they are not happy or fulfilled they basically feel that others are
responsible
.
Yes, and this is why we romanticize children in American culture. A lot of women who have successful carreres(sp) claim to want a family and a husband to settle down with eventually. Of course once they have all of that, they are still unhappy. Often said woman will get a divorce because "she was not happy".

I think to many people think that marriage should complete them. How can another indivual "complete" you?
I don't believe it's possible.

M.Dot. said...

Mdot posts like this are the reason I love your blog
=====

Thank you love.

It has been on my mind for a minute, so it was about the time to put it down.

Peck speaks on the role of marriage, and how both people have to see themselves as individuals if it is going to sustain itself.

Read it, I think you will dig it.

Courtney said...

"When one is dedicated to the truth this pain seems relatively unimportant- and less and less important (and therefore less painful) the farther one proceeds down the path of self examination."

This post has so many layers and so much to digest - but this particular passage speaks to me. The struggle isn't what has happened but the discipline attached to moving up and through and beyond without getting caught up in the distractions of pain. Self-examination and growth are akin to one another. It is these things along with acceptance and discipline that are the keys to attaining happiness, wholeness, love and truth.

This piece is impressive M.

M.Dot. said...

thank you love.

The book is amazing.

I have been tinkering around with the notions of control & agency.

If we presume that every person is responsible for his/her actions, then it follows that every person has agency. But if we look around at ourselves, the media and politicians the general message is that Blame is the game and personal responsibility has jumped out the window with discipline.

Will to Love said...

Thanks M.Dot. I enjoyed reading this. However, I'm also struck but what I think is an important question. You close your piece by asking, "When was the last time someone tried to control you?" I'm wondering if Peck himself would ask that, or would he ask, "When was the last time you did something to try to control someone or something else?"

If we focus on how/when other's try to control us, how may we be contributing to what Peck calls, a "lack of sense of responsibility for ourselves?"

I don't know if we are contributing to that, but it struck me as something to ask.

M.Dot. said...

Looking back, I may have asked that question because I see the desire to be controlled and the desire to control as two sides of the same coin.

Thinking about it again.

Your absolutely right.

I guess because I spend so much time ducking and dodging what I perceive as others desires to assert control over me, that that is where my thinking is.

But, my question is external, yours is internal.

Good point ock.

neo said...

It's funny I was listening to a minister yesterday while out in the field at work and he said the same thang!

This past weekend I began to somberly reflect on myself and self-examine and I had to reach out to my ex to apologise for mistreating her and not prioritizing her like I should've. 'Cos I took her for granted when we were together, I did her wrong and was arrogant all at the same time and it was that arrogance I used to lord it over her or control her.

This is a good woo-sah post yo.

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