How often have we heard people utter that damning phrase?

They mess with or destroy people’s lives without impunity because of selfish convictions. No matter the outcome of their actions, the manipulators cloak themselves by saying, “I did it for their own good.”

Why do we think we know what is best for others, especially our loved ones? Who presented us with the crystal ball of certainty that our manipulations are spot on and the target of our “well-meaning” actions should be grateful?

All too often, when the facts come to light. The manipulators are rarely proven right. What god or goddess bestowed the power on any one of us to meddle in someone else’s life?

Literature offers countless examples of manipulative people. The characters are, more often than not, motivated by selfishness or revenge. “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens is a perfect example.

A jilted bride wallows in her bitterness and plots her revenge against all males. She grooms a beautiful young girl, Estella, to become an emotionless heartbreaker. The object of Miss Havisham’s experiment is an unsuspecting boy named Pip. Miss Havisham’s training of Estella is a tale of brainwashing before that particular form of manipulation became the cornerstone of thrillers.

Did you know, if you bombard people with specific falsehoods for a month, they will accept them as fact?

Parents cross the line into manipulative or sneaky behavior. Sometimes their intentions are benign. But even with the best of intentions, manipulation is a form of control. And what parent has not struggled to deal with stubborn children?

Your humble writer must confess her transgression. Her five-year-old daughter had her tonsils removed and tubes in her ears. After surgery, the patient received a popsicle to soothe the throat. Her daughter refused the popsicle, which was par for the course because the child remained stubborn.

For almost a month, the child refused to eat. The exception was mashed potatoes. Her desperate mother managed to sneak melted cheese, well-beaten eggs, or anything that would easily blend into the mashed spuds. The child ate the potatoes and never noticed the additions. In this case, it was for the child’s good. Eventually, her picky eater daughter decided it was safe to eat most foods again and enjoyed popsicles as well.

On a more humorous note, our daughter did not like nuts in cookies. And yet, the girl happily gobbled up her mother’s Mexican Wedding Cookies that contained finely ground nuts. It was only recently that her daughter watched mom make the cookies and realized nuts were part of the ingredients. Fortunately, her anti-nut preference became a non-issue. Cookies ruled.

If you want more examples of manipulation, you need to look no further than movies, television series, books, and, of course, real life.

It has almost become a cliché to have a wealthy and pretentious mother or father manipulate their children to follow their chosen career path. Such parents also excel at nudging their offspring, with a steel-toed boot, toward socially acceptable marriage partners rather than a lower social stratum true love.

When confronted, the manipulative parent or parents sniff and insist, “It was for his good.” More often than not, the only beneficiary of such maneuvering is the parent. The son or daughter’s happiness is of no consequence when social standing and saving face are at risk.

Some manipulations fall into even darker realms.

When a nation professes its desire to help another country, its intentions and covert actions are rarely pure. If you doubt this, why do governments “secretly” support drug production and sales in other countries while loudly “supporting” antidrug legislation at home?

Dictators harm their people but fall in line with a superpower’s goals and remain safe. But when the big guys can no longer control the dictators, the dictators are suddenly deemed bad or even evil. Then they are either assassinated or captured. They may also be imprisoned until such time that the superpower sets them free to go about business as usual.

If power, control, or agendas are at stake, there is no right or wrong when it comes to governmental inconsistencies.

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