Monday, August 31, 2009

Illusion of Control

I take my thoughts from a book I am reading for class called Policy and Evidence in a Partisan Age by Paul Gary Wyckoff.

If you had a chance to read my last post, you may have realized that there are certain things in life that happen, where I learn certain things. Sometimes, I forget the little life's lessons and am reminded of them later. For some reason, I can't seem to hang on to certain little lessons I learn, and in turn realize that I have been wasting my time learning the same things I already know or knew. What happens is that the little lesson learned happened in one circumstance at one point in time. When an entirely new circumstance happens, for some reason I tend to forget that there are some pretty core principles that I learned during the last life lesson that can most certainly be applied despite the new circumstance.

The little lesson I am referring to is this: Control. I am in control of making decisions in my life. However, I am not in control of the decisions other people make in this life. I also feel that despite the fact that I am in control of making decisions, that ultimately, God knows all and gives me the opportunity to realize that if I want to be happy, that I need to recognize that He makes and keeps His promises. One thing to keep in mind while reading the rest of this post is that I know I am not a pawn in some cosmic-universal game. I am not a puppet to be controlled by God. No, I am here to choose. With every choice comes a consequence, no matter if the consequence is deemed as 'positive' or 'negative.'

In the book I attributed earlier, it states, "Psychologists have demonstrated that humans engage in an 'illusion' of control' rather than admit the cold truth when nothing can be done." Such is the life of decisions we make not just in policy and government, but also in relationships. That no matter what, there are other parties and variables in place that once you look, you realize how little control you really do have because there are so many 'actors' involved in the situation. The book talks about the patent medicine stage, when medical marvels were discovered as treatments for the common cold, bronchitis, jaundice, constipation, fatigue and even cancer. It reminds me of the "doctor" in Pete's Dragon who was so keen on selling medicine for the common cold that he claimed it relieved the cold in 2 weeks time. The conclusion this author draws on relates to systems in the government such as welfare, but makes these keen observations about theories and treatments that people believe in. The first, I described earlier...that people want to find relief for their afflictions. The second is that people don't know any better, and don't "have the tools for sorting out conflicting claims."

I would have to say that this statement is pretty pertinent to what I am experiencing right now. The problem is that half of the tools are revealed to me in regards to what I need to do in the meantime...and it seems to me that experience may be the only way for me to gain all the necessary tools to sort out this conflict that so avails me.

In my institute class, we are discussing Revelation Chapter 2. During these versus, it is pointed out that the people are turning to Balaam....the man who fooled himself into thinking that he controlled the ways of God. Our teacher made reference to a dream Balaam had of a man arguing with a donkey. The donkey in this context represented Balaam...a stubborn, dumb animal also known as an ass.

It is time for me to remember the tools I have been given to find happiness instead of trying to control where that happiness is coming from. I must first be happy in the Lord, who is #1 in my life...and not #2. When I put Him #1 happiness comes because of that relationship. Time to throw out this ideological sense that I am in complete control...because I'm not. So, I leave you with these thoughts and a half-full tool belt on my waist...because I have a feeling I don't have all the tools yet.

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