Do you know what I discovered recently? Our world is awash in opinions, and most of them aren’t worth the used toilet paper they should be printed on. I’ve decided that it isn’t the actual bad news that is on 24/7 media blast that bothers me as much as it is the opinions regarding the justification of everything from rude cat-calling (seriously knuckleheads, WTF: when you become verbally and sexually abusive with your comments, that’s somebody’s daughter, sister, mother, aunt, or grandchild) to the 4 billion dollars in dirty money* spent on the mid-term elections to manipulate our opinions and thus our voting choices.
Used by permission: Cat Calls, Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune
“Don’t Take Anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”—Miguel Angel Ruiz
Nowadays we don’t know who is trying to influence our opinions, and they are good—really good at what they do. One day, you could be born a poor black child, struggle through all the ravages of what it meant to suffer through the Jim Crow era in these here United States, and the next moment you could wake up as a Black right-wing Christian conservative who doesn’t give a shit about anybody who “can’t pull themselves up by their boot straps as I did” (I’m talking about you Dr. Ben Carson)—all because you weren’t paying attention to the inordinate influences of others. Trust me, it happened to me.
Is there a school or something where people take a course on manipulation to push their will and opinions on others to get what they want? Or is this a skill we learn as children?
I was meditating on the concept of personal opinions and the ability to get people to bend to our wills when I overheard a conversation in the aisle of my local drugstore. While I was filling up my shopping cart with the latest shipment of #117 Adele Feathered False Eyelashes (don’t judge, just know that at age 66 I still get respectable cat calls—I’ll take a construction worker’s opinion of “Damn Baby, you sho’ is lookin’ good” any day of the week). Anyway, I couldn’t see who was talking in the next aisle where the cards and toys were, but I quickly ascertained that it was a young mother and her five-year-old daughter whose name was Sasha.
SASHA: Mommy, can I have this doll?
MOM: (only half listening) No Sasha. You already have a gazillion dolls.
SASHA: But MOOOOOOOOOOOOM, I don’t have THIIIIIIISSSSSSS doll!
MOM: (The mom still only half listening) The answer is still no, Sasha. Now stop your nagging. You didn’t skip kindergarten today to go shopping for toys. You are sick, and I have to figure out what type of medicine you need to get over this cold. We need to get out of here and put you to bed before you get sicker, or I lose my mind from your constant whining. Why is that pharmacist taking so long to fill our prescriptions?
SASHA: Because the pharmacist wants you to buy me this Elsa doll, that’s why. He’s just waiting on you to make the right decision. Even the pharmacist knows how well I’ll sleep with Elsa and how much better she’ll make me feel.
MOM: Shush, Sasha! I can barely hear myself think.
SASHA: Moooooom, you’re being so mean! What will it take for you to buy me this doll?
MOM: The Messiah to come—in the middle of CVS, in this aisle, singing “Let It Go” from Frozen—with a back-up choir of black angelic beings.
SASHA: What’s a “themessiahtocome”? Is that some kind of tooth fairy for sick kids whose mommy won’t take pity on them and buy them a doll that they really, really, really, really, need?
MOM: (The young mother chuckled and became more conciliatory) Honey, you just had a birthday, and if I recall, you got three dolls from your grandparents. Three! Now zip it!
(There was barely a five-second pause before I heard another little girl’s voice chime in to try and melt the young mother’s resilience. This kid was good. Sasha had called in reinforcements.)
LITTLE GIRL’S VOICE: Sasha’s mom . . . look at poor, sick Sasha. How could you do this to her? She’s such a good little girl. Look at her poor, pitiful face. You’ve made her so very sad. What kind of mother are you to treat such an angel so poorly. Please, Sasha’s mom. P-L-E-A-S-E be a good mommy and buy Sasha an Elsa doll. Everybody else in her kindergarten class has one.
(At this point, I couldn’t take the suspense any longer and had to see who Sasha’s opinionated, manipulative, little friend was, so I abandoned my shopping cart and quickly whipped around the corner to see this wunderkind with my very own eyes. But there weren’t two children: there was only Sasha and her mom. Sasha (one of the cutest little girls I’ve ever seen) was holding the Elsa doll (still in its package) in front of her face and doing one of the best ventriloquist acts on record. Sasha was having Elsa, the Disney Snow Queen, plead her case with her mom. If all else fails, bring in the inanimate objects, right?)
SASHA’S MOM: (clearly at her wit’s end) I tell you what, Sasha and “Sasha’s friend.” Rosh Hashanah is coming. Maybe if Sasha is a good girl and stops getting on Mommy’s every last nerve, Sasha might be able to get Elsa as a Rosh Hashanah present.
You could see Sasha mulling this over in her mind, and finally she acquiesced, thinking she had won the day. But even I knew as a black Charismatic Christian that Rosh Hashanah was September 24th, and it was now October 15th. As the pharmacist called Sasha’s mom’s name to come get her prescription, I gave her a high-five from one mom—now grandmother—to another for the victory she had won over Sasha’s manipulaton. As I turned the corner, I heard Elsa/Sasha’s voice scream out as she ran after her mom with the Elsa Snow Queen tucked under her arm:
“Wait a minute, Sasha’s mom! You tricked us.
We just celebrated Rosh Hashanah with Saba and Savta. It doesn’t come back until next year!
Oh, man . . !”
Not the real Sasha but a close enough imitation
I am discovering that after meeting the delightful Sasha, I suspect opinions come as part of the soul-package when we’re born, and all it takes is the onset of language skills. I also suspect that the ability to manipulate others to bend to our will is part of the original-sin passport we get as a citizen of planet Earth. Just ask any mother.
I once read that we spend 50% of our time resisting the efforts of other people who try to push their agendas on us and the other 50% of our time trying to push our agendas on them. We’re all a bunch of opinionated manipulators, but when one side’s agenda brings great harm to another, then that manipulation must be resisted at all cost—whether it is a friend that is taking advantage of our good will or it is our fellow citizens spending 4 billion dollars in dirty money to steal an election. Our elections are being influenced and bought by dark money, voter suppression, gerrymandering, defaming campaign ads, bigoted cable news channels, and out-and-out lies.
Used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star
“The problem is voters really don’t know who is trying to influence their votes on Election Day and who is trying to influence the elected officials who are going to take office after Election Day.”— Ian Vandewalker of the Brennan Center for Justice (What Americans could have bought instead of a $4 billion election) by Chris Frates, CNN investigative correspondent*
I am also discovering that I am going to lay my opinion on you right now, right here: Are you planning to vote? If not, why not? There are people trying to push their agenda on your lives that don’t want you to vote, and they think you won’t because they are of the opinion that Blacks, Latinos, women, poor people in general, and young people overall don’t vote in off-years—not sexy or exciting enough it seems. The problem is that all politics are local, and you’ll get screwed over more by your state and local politics than you ever could by a presidential election. There are people who died so that you could resist that type of evil by being able to vote (see blog FiftyFourandAHalf). The GOPs opinion is that the Senate is theirs for the taking. Is it true? Until voting day, it is only their opinion. What is your opinion? Express it in the voting booth!
P.S. Someone told me that in Australia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Peru it is against the law to be a citizen and not vote. It is my opinion that I should try and get a similar law passed in the United States.
Used by permission: Get Out the Vote, Pat Bagley Salt Lake-Tribune
“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”—Franklin D. Roosevelt
“If American women would increase their voting turnout by ten percent, I think we would see an end to all of the budget cuts in programs benefiting women and children.”—Coretta Scott King
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”—Steve Jobs
“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”—Albert Einstein
THAT’S MY SASHA OPINION!
WANT TO READ A GREAT BOOK ABOUT THE AUTHOR’S JOURNEY IN OVERCOMING THE MANIPULATIVE POLITICAL AGENDAS OF THE JIM CROW ERA IN AMERCA? CHECK OUT: MONSTERS’ THROWDOWN.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR? www.eleanortomczyk.com
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