MEDDLING ~ An American Obsession

by the Blogger G. Hugh Bodell

“…because they are making the wrong choices.”

Believe it or not this is the reason given for meddling whether the meddler is; a parent in the life of a grown adult child, an adult child in the life of a parent, or a bureaucrat in everything from what you eat/drink to what you let your children read.

The very scary news is that regardless of the reach of our insatiable appetite to meddle, the results appear to be consistently the same…disaster!

My awareness of the meddling obsession began quite unexpectedly.

My wife Susan and I speak before varied groups about her bestselling book on finding happiness and fulfillment, ‘Look for the Hook’.  For the most part, folk attending these events are unhappy and don’t know why.  After the first two sessions, we began to observe that the majority of these unhappy people were not distressed over their own actions but were seriously bothered… to a degree that kept them awake at night…by the actions or lack thereof of others.  These ‘others’ included spouses, siblings, parents or adult children.

Why?

“Because ‘they’ are making the wrong choices!”

Over several events we learned that the ‘wrong choices’ these adults were making ran the gamut from where they lived, what they did for a living, who they choose as a partner even as far as their having a child.

The meddling adults had excuses galore for their right to meddle, all of which resonated with insults to those guilty of ‘wrong choices’ and the epic arrogance of the meddler.

We usually try to nudge the unhappy folk who are doing the meddling to read the lyrics of the hit song of the 1970s, ‘Walk a Mile in My Shoes”, written and performed by Joe South.  Although the song and the underlying theme concern racial tolerance, the concentration is on ‘perspective’… an attribute generally ignored by meddlers.

The following verse and chorus is a great example (in my opinion) of the thoughts going on in the mind of the object of meddling:

If you could see you through my eyes
Instead your ego
I believe you’d be, I believe you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind

So, unless you’ve lived a life of total perfection
Mm-mm, you’d better be careful of every stone that you should throw

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Yeah, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

I have outlived the folk in my life that may have been inclined to meddle, but the awesome surprise and fortunate for me, they never meddled.

They may have thought, justifiably, that choices I was making appeared to be bad ones, but they thankfully made not a sound and let those bad choices run their course… and about 75% of the time, they were bad or more appropriately ‘insufficiently analyzed’.  However, I learned and grew from each experience and after getting beyond the disaster of the bad choice I would say, “Wow that was dumb.”

The other 25% turned out to be good…for me.

I learned three things from each of these experiences:

1] The only person that could know all the facts surrounding my choices was me, therefore the only valid participant in that choice was me.

2] I learned, never to forget, the results of bad choices

3] Go with your gut and the results of your own analysis.  Make a decision and leap into it with both feet.  If you succeed cheer, If the choice results in disaster, learn from it, put it behind you, and move on.

This of course is a tough way of dealing with those we see making a bad choice… from the perspective of our yard stick, however, the meddler and the meddled both win when the practice of shutting our mouths and staying out of another’s life is exercised.

The meddler does not become one of the legions of unhappy folk because another adult is not living according to the meddler’s plan.

The meddled make life decisions based on their analysis and their place in life and whether the outcome is good or bad they move along the path of life with an experience, more knowledge and a good feeling about themselves for standing on their own.


But enough of the small-time meddling, let’s look at meddling on a grand scale and how it is seriously affecting the lives of over 300 million Americans.

For openers, the “Grand Scale Meddlers” (henceforth referred to as GSMs) have two basic characteristics in common with family level busybodies;

  • They overtly or by innuendo insult those guilty of ‘wrong choices’ (including whole cultures)
  • Their arrogance knows no bounds

A few examples of GSMs around us today:

Mr. Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, pushed through a local law prohibiting all restaurants, fast-food joints, delis, movie theaters, sports stadiums and food carts from selling sugar-sweetened drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces (0.5 liters).  So Mr. Bloomberg, a prime example of a GSM, decided that if you wanted 32 ounces of Coca~Cola to sip during your afternoon of diligent labor in the City of New York, you could not do it with a single 32 ounce cup from the local fast food joint…you had to buy two 16 ounce cups.

Mr. Bloomberg’s rationale summarized; “I believe that sixteen ounces of a sugary drink is not bad for you but seventeen ounces is, therefore I am saving you from yourself by preventing you from drinking seventeen ounces conveniently.”

My summary; “New Yorkers, you are too stupid and incompetent to look after your own welfare so I in my infinite wisdom (and arrogance) will decide what you can and cannot do… in any area of your life that I choose, so let’s start with what you eat and drink.”

Fortunately, some of the US Judicial System believe that these decisions are not appropriate for the arrogant, bloated bureaucracy to make, thus, On June 26, 2014, the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled that the New York City Board of Health, in adopting the Sugary Drinks Portion Cap Rule, exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority.

How much did that meddling escapade cost New Yorkers?

We of course can look around us and find many other examples of arrogant bureaucrats that find meddling their right and chosen vocation.

  • Pre-Teens introduced to birth control and ‘alternative’ life styles from age ten in many public school systems over a majority of parents objections
  • A Federal bureaucrat decides you cannot continue to go to the physician who has been caring for you for twenty-five years because the bureaucrat knows what medical care system is better for you than you do
  • Children punished for using the word ‘gun’ or ‘God’ in public schools
  • San Francisco has implemented a ban on Happy Meal toys to protect vulnerable tots from Big Corporate Marketing
  • At public schools, all over the United States, the lunches that little children bring from home are now inspected to make sure that they meet USDA guidelines, not the parents knowledge of the child’s need.

But this is a drop in the bucket when compared to meddling on an international level as carried out by US administrations:

  • Telling/dictating the way 1,400-year-old cultures should change to be more like 350-year-old cultures

We all know how that is working for them.

  • Picking out and supporting one side in internal civil wars because American politicians know what is best for them. Let’s see, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, etc, etc

We all know how that is working for them.

  • Picking out and supporting individual businesses in the energy sphere.

We all know how that is working for them.

The point is, meddling in affairs that are not yours, whether it is where your son and his family choose to live, the food your constituents can eat or to whom in a conflict you elect to provide billions in military gifts, it appears to always turn out bad for one side or the other, The Meddler or The Meddled.

Regardless of the level of meddling there are two common attributes in this intrusive activity, insult and arrogance.

There is a lesson to be learned here.

G. Hugh Bodell is an Author, Satirist, Journalist and Publisher
Visit him and his books at:
www.ghughbodell.com

© Copyright G. Hugh Bodell 2017