control freaks

Control

I’ve long been interested in the obsession our species seems to have with control.

(An obsession both species-wide, I would say, & also clearly very much present in many individuals – manifesting, I suppose, in a variety of ways, & for different reasons.)

I’ve written about it here:

& recently posted this photo from my very beloved Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much book.

Meditation on Control.JPG

&, just ran across another great entry in the book:

2nd item on Control from Meditations.JPG

I could go on & on here, about how little control we actually really have over our lives.

And how unpleasant control freakism is for everyone. 🙁

(Seems to me life is a lot more fun without it.)

And the role of patriarchy, & religion, & governments/bureaucracies, & militaries, & so many corporations/advertisers/propaganda purveyors – on who controls what, & whom, & for what purposes…

But you know?

I think it’s time for a beer.

🙂

I’ll just throw in some maybe-semi-relevant quotations, instead.

Janet

p.s. as regards the patriarchy & governments, corporations, etc., it is generally helpful to always go down the questioning road, being sure to always #FollowTheMoney & #QuestionEverything

A Few Relevant Quotations

Voltaire on who you cannot criticize.jpg

“When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” – Tuli Kupferberg

“…the goal of all spiritual life is to get your ego out of the way – outwit the sucker; dissolve it; shoot it; kill it. Silence the incessant planning, organizing, running, manipulating, possessing, and processing”… “because these activities preclude awareness of the Divine.” – Rabbi Lawrence Kushner in his book I’m God, You’re Not

“Planning is not part of our culture. You just get up in the morning and do what you need to do for the day.” – Marilyn Wallace of the Kuku Nyungka ‘mob’ (aboriginal nation) in northern Queensland, Australia. Quoted in Steve Leahy article ‘Indigenous Peoples Needed to Meet the Challenge of Climate Change’ 

“We are not lacking in the dynamic forces needed to create the future. We live immersed in a sea of energy beyond all comprehension. But this energy, in an ultimate sense, is ours not by domination but by invocation.” – Thomas Berry in The Great Work – Our Way into the Future, page 175

“It’s antithetical to the definition of power in this culture that a person might derive power by service rather than control, but that’s the essence of midwifery.” – Elizabeth Davis, Heart & Hands: A Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, quoted in Brezsny’s Pronoia

“Energy always flows either toward hope, community, love, generosity, mutual recognition, and spiritual aliveness or it flows toward despair, cynicism, fear that there is not enough, paranoia about the intentions of others, and a desire to control.” ~ Michael Lerner, quoted in The Great Turning – From Empire to Earth Community, by David Korten

“Our best hope for going forward is learning to let go, and part of that is letting go of anger and delusion. Much of the current finger-pointing is fundamentally conservative as it seeks to maintain an impossible status quo, even if it waves a radical banner. But the big conversations we need to have are with each other. And for that we’re more in need of wounded healers (grateful, uncertain, compassionate, complicit) than raging prophets.” – David Korowicz

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning of life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re really seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell, US folklorist & expert on mythology (1904 - 1987)

“I know what the greatest cure is: it is to give up, to relinquish, to surrender, so that our little hearts may beat in unison with the great heart of the world.” – Henry Miller

“If those in charge of our society - politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television - can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves.” – Howard Zinn

“A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” – John F. Kennedy

“Alice Walker says ‘Resistance is the secret of joy’ and I don’t know if it’s the secret of joy, but I know it is definitely the secret of staving off depression. The reality we’re facing is very grave, so how do you not get depressed about it? Well – one way you don’t get depressed is by work.” – Dr. Naomi Oreskes, History of Science professor, Harvard, in ‘Climate Disruption’

“The cure for states is feelings. As I discovered that day in the shower, unlike states, which tend to congeal, feelings will run their own course in due time. Despite the often expressed male fear that if one were to let oneself cry, one would never stop, tears, in fact, eventually taper off if one lets them. Feelings are not endless, but our numbing attempts to avoid them can last a lifetime.” – Terrence Real in I Don’t Want to Talk About It – Overcoming The Secret Legacy of Male Depression

RELAX - nothing is under control.jpg

Why we are control freaks (I think)

** this is a re-post. It was first posted on my original blog site in Sept. 2009. I've made a few additions, editorial comments, more or less, which are inside square brackets []. Pretty interesting to see this old item now, knowing what I know now, in light of all I've learned since that time, & realizing how much I was unaware of back then. Sigh.

<July 18/09>

Now, I’m not a psychological expert of any kind. I did get a B.A. in Psychology back in pre-history (1974), when, frankly, very little was as yet understood about the human brain. [I don't think anyone really knew then how very little they knew, then. Hmmm?]

There’s plenty I don’t know about human psychology – don’t really understand – but I am a keen & constant observer of human nature – & I read a lot, think a lot & have the occasional “Aha!” moment.

I believe there are two levels to our control freak-ism – the very, very personal & the more, shall we say, global.

I’m pretty convinced that the genesis of our tendency toward control freak-ism goes back to the time in human history, widely said by scholars to be about 10,000 years ago, when we chose to abandon the tribal lifestyle – the life of gatherers & hunters – & began to practice settled agriculture. Several books introduced this idea to me: In the Absence of the Sacred – The Failure of Technology & the Survival of the Indian Nations (Jerry Mander, Sierra Club Books, 1992); Ishmael – An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit (Daniel Quinn, Bantam/Turner, 1992) & My Name is Chellis & I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization (Chellis Glendinning, Shambhala, 1994). (I highly recommend all 3, btw.)

In doing so, we detoured away from millennia of placing our faith in the Earth/Universe to provide for us (which the Earth/Universe was so generously doing), & decided to “take control” of things. In retrospect, it now seems to a lot of us, I think, that this was a very, very problematic choice.

Abandoning the tribal lifestyle has had many unfortunate & no doubt unintended consequences (I love that phrase: unintended consequences; life is full of them, hmm?), to put it rather mildly. Separating ourselves from Nature – & from each other & our tribal ways – has been nothing short of disastrous.

That’s the global piece.

So now we all have 10,000 years of a control mindset wired into us – into our brains & our genes & our culture & our guts.

Bringing it down to the more personal level, many of us on the planet grew up in families in which dysfunctionality was rampant; is it not so?

There are/were alcoholic parents, parents who abandon/ed us in one form or another, mistreat/ed us, sexually abuse/d us, visit/ed violence upon us, berate/d us constantly – & we wind up/wound up very damaged in a startling variety of ways. If our childhood was very chaotic, unpredictable & out-of-control, as adults we tend to have an intense need to control our circumstances – our emotions, our surroundings, the people around us & so on. (Even the appearance of our lawns! To the point of being willing to use poisons on them to “subdue” weeds. Sheesh!)

It’s not so surprising, is it? We want to somehow right the wrongs that were done to us, & so we become control freaks – to a greater or lesser degree. We want things to be predictable. No more out of control stuff, please, we are saying, hmm?

It’s a coping strategy, pure & simple. It doesn’t tend to work terribly well, of course, given that the very nature of life is to not be controlled or controllable. So it becomes a vicious cycle. The more we try to control everything around us, the more out-of-control things seem to become. And on & on we go, around & around, making ourselves (& the people around us) miserable, sick & maybe even crazy.

Control freak-ism is kind of a losing strategy, you might say, hmm?

It often seems to take a personal disaster of some sort to make us see that our excessive need for control is causing us more problems than it solves. (Been there!)

When life throws an unexpected curve ball our way – especially one of rather large proportions (& Life seems to positively delight in doing so!) – & life as we’ve known it is shattered, often light begins to dawn. We see the illusory nature of the control freak-ism that has so limited us, & we begin to see that a generous Earth/Universe is there to support us, quite without our having to always be the Great Big Sheriff of this, that & the other thing. We let go and, as it were, the Earth rises up to greet us.

It’s all quite magical, really.

I find all of it very, very poignant. Tragic, but so poignant. So much of human endeavour & our human frailties (& worse) can drive us right around the bend, almost – but when we come to see that underneath all the nonsense we are really quite innocent creatures – innocent, but very, very damaged & hurt; well, it helps, somehow, doesn’t it? It certainly helps bring up compassion, if nothing else.

I’ve heard that some of the major writers (being terrible with details, I can’t remember who) have pinpointed alienation as the key human problem or issue. I think they’re right. A word I would twin with it is abandonment. So many of us feel we were abandoned in one or many ways by our parents (& we were, we were) and/or by spouses/partners along the way (we were, we were) – & this comes down through the generations, & Heaven help us all, we then pass it on down to our own children, one way & another; tragically, tragically, this is so.

We’ve all felt abandoned/alienated for 10,000 years, so how could things be otherwise??

We human beings evolved to be loved & looked after & cared for by a whole tribe of people, whom we in return love, look after & care for.

How then could we feel anything other than abandoned & alienated in a world that tells us to get by on our own, more or less – or in the care of a very small number of people, some of them too damaged themselves to do anything but pass along their hurts & pain & neuroses & damage? (1)

It’s all very sad – nay, tragic – & so poignant to realize that we are all in the same darn boat. We’re all damaged – to greater & lesser degrees – & we live in a world – an industrial economy that, as Wendell Berry has said, “thrives by damage.”

Healing is always possible, however. It is human nature to change/grow/evolve. It may very well be that we have let the sickness go on too long, & our condition (as a species) is terminal [of course I'm now 1000% convinced of this, & have been for many years, now] – but at least as individuals, we can turn ourselves around (only if we truly want to, of course. That is a choice we make, & choice is key, key, key in human endeavour…).

Now. All of this is just my opinion. None of it is scientific fact, & you can’t put any of it under a microscope or conduct a scientific experiment to prove (or disprove!) it.

As Einstein once said, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.”

It seems to me like truth. Make of it what you will, hmmmm?

Janet

p.s. The essays ‘Control Freaks Anonymous’ & ‘Ditching the 2 x 4’s’ are also about the perennially important subject of control – which I see as the central issue/dilemma of human endeavour, pretty much…

(1) Richard Rohr said, “All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it to those around us.” This statement certainly resonates for me…

** note about these "tags," below. If you click on them, they will take you to some interesting, other old posts. But then you'll be inside the OLD blog site, not this "new" one. Yeah. It's kind of weird, even for me. Did I ever claim I understand everything?? I'll leave them here ... but if you use them, just be forewarned. You could wind up kind of seasick. I know I am. & it's my blog! Sheesh. I have just figured it out! It's that, once you go "there," you may have a hard time getting back ..."here." If you see what I mean. & I'm not sure I even do. Time for a bracing walk!!

Tagged: abandonment, alienation, all great spirituality is about what we do with our pain, Chellis Glendinning, control, control freak, Daniel Quinn, Einstein, In the Absence of the Sacred, Ishmael, Jerry Mander, My Name is Chellis, Richard Rohr on spirituality & pain, tribal creatures, tribal life, Wendell Berry, why are we control freaks?