Saturday, March 23, 2024

Can't live someone's life for them

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for February 18, 2024)

People don't always do what you want.

I'm not even talking about those who decide to rob others at knifepoint, which I'm sure you don't want them to do. I'm talking about when someone chooses to do their own thing based on different values, preferences, and information. When they make a choice you wouldn't have made. A choice you might think is a mistake, based on your values, preferences, and information.

How we handle these situations says a lot about who we are.

Some choose to use violence to stop others from doing things they'd rather they not do. This violence can be in person, but it's more often in the form of encouraging government violence through legislation and enforcement. If you're talking about those who choose to rob people, violence is justified, although using government is never the best way to do anything.

When you're talking about using violence against someone who is simply choosing a peaceful path you wouldn't have chosen, using violence to stop them is always the wrong thing to do. It makes you the problem; the one who needs to be stopped.

Other people reject violence, but will try to convince the person to change their mind; to act in a way they believe is better. Sometimes this may even work. Usually, it doesn't. What then?

A common response is to start nagging. Never let it go. Constantly remind the other person of what we wish they'd do instead. Become an annoyance. This might work but it's more likely to make them resent you and dread seeing your face. It may make them dig in their heels and continue doing something they've come to realize-- without your input-- doesn't work for them. They can't change now since it would look like letting you win. By nagging, you've guaranteed more of what you don't want. Good job!

I suppose we are all guilty of doing this, though. It's a hard thing to avoid, since you're certain if they just understood how you saw it they would change their mind and do what you think they should do.

A better way is to let them know why you'd like to see them do something different, and then accept their decision. You've done your part. You may even be right, but you can't live someone else's life for them. People learn from mistakes. You and I did, and so will they.

"Tread on me harder, Master!"

Whenever I see a Trump supporter or a copsucker flying a Gadsden flag, I almost feel I can read the disclaimer along the bottom edge. 

And, I see it a lot. It's vile.

They just don't understand the message.

The only thing more stupid and offensive would be if Biden supporters started flying the Gadsden. But that's not going to happen in this simulation.

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