Posts Tagged ‘control freaks’

Plans

Came across a great quotation the other day.

“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 the Steve Leahy article Indigenous Peoples Needed to Meet the Challenge of Climate Change (other good, recent articles by Steve here).

I love it!! It resonates hugely for me – a person who believes in trying to live from the in-side out, rather than the out-side in (I believe most people in our culture do the latter, & I used to too, only it didn’t really make me “happy,” or make very much sense to me).

I think we “westerners” need to learn some wisdom from cultures in which it is understood that our maniacal efforts to “control” this, that & the other thing have always been doomed to failure. (If you don’t think so, just take a look around!! World = bit of a mess, wouldn’t you say??)

For some reason I understand down to my bones that plans are all very well, but that we mustn’t count too much on them. I’m sure you know what I mean.

Well – lots of stuff to do today, so off I go. (Knowing it may not go according to plan – but I’ll at least get going on what I think needs doing today.)

Janet

p.s. I’ve written about plans before – a posting called ‘Plans = Neat. Life = Messy.’ The posting ‘A Walk in the Woods‘ talks about mislaid plans…

p.p.s. lotsa folks probably don’t know what I mean when I talk about inside-out & outside-in. Or have a knee-jerk reaction to the suggestion that being a bit less plan-focused might make sense. “But how could we get by in the world without a ton of plans????” they will say. Read what Eustace Conway says about boxes in the blog posting here. He nails our culture pretty darn good. It’s worth hearing his assessment…

p.p.p.s. the posting ‘Control Freaks Anonymous‘ touches on all of this too…

29

03 2012

Power Over / Power With…

<Nov. 25/10.>

I just went into the police station in Oshawa to give the police my new address. (I’m on probation for a climate change-related sit-in I took part in a year ago now.)

I’ve been on both sides of the correctional fence, you might say. I worked as a parole officer in a previous incarnation, about half a million years ago now (well, I guess it only feels like that long ago!!).

& now, I’m on probation for an act of civil disobedience that I basically felt morally compelled to take part in.

I noticed something interesting during that few minutes I spent inside the police station.

There were 3 female staff members – admin support staff, I assume – behind the very tall, very wide desk.

When I went in – old nice middle-class me – I was immediately asked (if in an ever-so-slightly snooty tone), “Can I help you?”

The tone toward me when it was established that I am on probation seemed to become a little cooler. Dismissive. Almost, but not quite, rude.

Then this brown, bearded fellow came into the police station. Although there was a staff person right in front of him who was clearly otherwise unoccupied, there was no “Can I help you” for this dude.

And I thought, “Yeah. We all gotta have that sensation of exercising some power in this world, don’t we?”

We’ve all witnessed this. People in positions of all kinds who clearly feel the need to be kind of bossy & imperious & tell people (who in many cases they seem to view as somehow their inferiors??) what to do.

I hate this. Even when it’s kind of poignant, I’ve always hated it.(I recall being bossed around one time by a woman who was washing floors in a hospital, & I kind of felt for her, knowing that we all feel that need to have power).

(A person might make the mistake of thinking I became a parole officer because I liked the idea of “lording it over” others. But you’d be wrong. I was actually (in my own self-deluded way) trying to “save the world,” & I really had no idea what a weird gig I was getting myself into with that job. Another whole long story, there. Another day, OK?)

I think we all need to feel we have some kind of power in this life. And a lot of us seem to exercise power in very negative kinds of ways. Controlling ways. Bitchy ways. This is a somewhat complex topic – I’ve written about it at length in my un-published book “Letters to Rebecca: Musings on motherhood…& feminism & patriarchy & female/male relationships & the state of the world…”

Short form now?

I think exercising power in positive ways is a good deal more satisfying (& good for the world!) than those mean, controlling, rather bitchy ways.

There is, in fact, power over, & power with.

A lot of people in the social change movements (social justice, environmental) seem to get off on the power with kind of power. We are doing work that ultimately benefits everyone, & there is both a good deal of fun & much satisfaction in this kind of work. Of course, human nature being human nature, there are control freak types in every line of human endeavour. Life is seldom “black & white,” hmmm??

Well, I could go on – but I talk too much, & there are many other constructive things to do today.

Parting words?

I wish more of us could “get” that sharing positive forms of power – power with rather than power over – is ultimately probably a great deal more satisfying – & energizing, & very likely also much better for our health (both physical & mental), & also for the health of our planet.

That’s what I think, anyway…

Janet

p.s. My buddy Barb likes the term “petty power pushers.” Works for me!

p.p.s. One of the ways activists – of all stripes – let the ‘powers-that-be’ know what we think about the way they run things is by organizing “protests.” I’ve taken part in tons of these by now, & definitely always find them very…empowering. I think lots of my non-activist friends, family & acquaintances think protests are scary or unpleasant events. In my experience, the very opposite is true! The ‘Protesting…Celebrating…whatever post goes into this…

p.p.p.s. Oh help! I went looking for the definitive ‘Quote for the day’ (searching through my 86-page “Quotations” document) & found a whole blog posting worth of them!? I see that my next task will be to collect all these together & do a posting on quotations with the word “power” in them. Sheesh!? Wasn’t expecting to find quite so many! Especially since I’ve also created a collection of quotations about science (as-yet un-posted), & am not quite sure how to accommodate the darn thing. That list under ‘Quotation Central is getting out of hand!?

30

12 2010

G is for Gatekeeper

<April 15/10>

This phrase came to me today, I guess, because a couple of things I’ve heard lately have made me say out loud “You’re playing gatekeeper!!” (The concept of ‘the gatekeeper’ is not a new one to me.)

The person who twigged it last night was the neurologist interviewed on “The Current Review” on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio who seems to be resisting a “radical” new treatment for MS (multiple sclerosis). He claims his concern is for his patients’ safety – & I bet he even believes that! I suspect he’s mostly “playing gatekeeper.” It “works” for him to be the Big Expert with his patients – the one with all the knowledge & the expertise & the one who gets to pull out & write on that prescription pad & help keep those big Pharma boys (& himself) in business.

I wonder…

It isn’t just doctors who play gatekeeper, of course. I remember a small town I used to live in where I used to say the mayor seemed to behave as though he owned the town – had it all neatly tucked up in his back pocket. Of course we all know quite a few people who seem to think (they certainly act as though) they have God all neatly tucked up in their back pocket, hmm? Yes… I guess we could muse on that one for a while…

Nor is it just men in positions of power & privilege who play gatekeeper. I remember once encountering a woman who seemed to be an expert at it. At her wedding reception, I met & got along like a house on fire with her sister, who seemed very interested indeed in the project on cancer prevention I was then involved in. When I asked her later for her sister’s e-mail address, Ms. GK wouldn’t give it to me.

& that reminds me now too of another similar story, where a woman I’ve known virtually all my life would not share contact information for her sister – effectively cutting off the possibility of exchanges that might well have led to real benefits for several people – her sister chief among them.

Gatekeepers. They don’t get it.

They cling to their “power” – unaware that in a world characterized by openness & sharing & collaboration & inclusivity (instead of exclusivity), where nobody gets to be or has to be the Great Big Sheriff or the Great Big Expert – but rather, where we all put our heads & hands to the tasks – whatever our background, skin colour, age, sex, education, religious views – & work as an ensemble – we not only get the work done, we have a heck of a lot more fun!!

There is definitely some, how shall I say, gender politics in all this, of course. No need to go there…we just need to grasp that “power with” is a good deal more empowering & fun – for everyone – than power over.

So to gatekeeper types everywhere, female, male & otherwise – in the corporate world & in the world of politics & in the world of activism (Yes! There are even those in the environmental & social justice movements who play gatekeeper/power freak. Sheesh, eh?? Old habits really do die hard), I say, G is for “Get a grip!!”

Changing the world is for everybody.

It’s a team sport, dudes – not a competition! Enough of the darn turf wars (& the egos), already…

Janet

P.S. Folks who “play gatekeeper” are generally control freaks, basically. People become control freaks for a reason – nobody gets this way out of nowhere! For some of us, it takes a life-shattering, gutwrenching experience of one kind or another to relinquish our control freak-ism. (Some of us are pretty slow learners & very, very reluctant to let it go. This is painful to watch…& a regrettably very widespread phenomenon indeed. Some, of course, never do let it go).

It is actually such a liberating thing to get – right down inside our guts – the seemingly inconvenient truth that pretty much all of our notions about control – over our very own lives, even – are merely illusions. Once the shock of that realization subsides, & you stand back & take a new look & give yourself a chance to really breathe, you see that it actually opens everything right up!

Joseph Campbell said, “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” Isn’t that brilliant??

P.P.S. A couple of other postings on this blog speak to the issue of control freak-ism: Ditching the 2 x 4’s,” “2 x 4′s: A few more thoughts,” & Control Freaks Anonymous.” I guess What We Focus On, Expands”  too.

Quote of the Day’ with this post: “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

27

04 2010

2 x 4’s: A Few More Thoughts…

<written August 27/09>

I wrote an essay a couple of years ago called ‘Ditching the 2 x 4’s.

Just a few quick thoughts to add on this topic…

I’ve joked that a lot of us seem to have a 2 x 4 or two up our rear, & that it seems to me it’s our life’s work to break them down & get them out

I figure I’ve shed quite a few 2 x 4’s of my own by now, at 56. A few major personal life challenges have cured me of most of any control freak-ism I used to suffer from. I’ve done (& do) lots of “letting go.” I don’t expect anyone (or the world) to follow my agenda. Heck, I can’t follow it myself; it’s always changing!?

Interestingly, the more I “let go,” the more the Universe seems to give me what I really need (if not usually exactly what I had in mind…).

Anyway.

The thought that came to me on this subject a day or two ago is this: some of us have 2 x 4’s up our butt – & some of us seem to be walking around with something more like a steel rod.

Yikes!!

Can’t be very comfortable!?!?!?!? (Or very much fun…)

Janet

P.S. ‘Control Freaks Anonymous’ is another somewhat relevant essay on this topic. And ‘G is for Gatekeeper.’

17

04 2010