Manipulation is the coward’s way out of being virtuous. Time to stop deluding ourselves that bitter consent is real.
In the world of manipulation, people don’t speak their minds. They twist words and guilt into grapevines of confusion and deride your good will to get what they want. They are con artists who fool people into thinking they must help, even if they have no desire to do so.
But manipulation is the coward’s way out of being virtuous. It scrapes any authentic residue that remains on the walls of our souls and keeps us from producing more. Yet, here we are: living inside of our hypocritical bubbles and deluded enough to believe that bitter consent is real.
What kind of life is THIS?
When I was sixteen-years-old, I went to a New Year’s Eve party with a friend. My mother, who was leaving for Hawaii, supplied me with enough cab fare to get me back home by NO LATER THAN ONE O’CLOCK the next morning. It was my first time staying home by myself and I didn’t want to screw it up.
Shortly after midnight, when the party was ending and people were milling around in the front yard, my friend hopped into a pickup truck with one of the boys from school. I tried to stop her by stepping into the doorway, but she pushed me out with her pink Jelly shoe and knocked me down into the grass. I was mortified and covered in dirt.
Seconds later, another boy appeared out of nowhere and helped me off the ground. He was an older boy, a recent graduate, whom I had seen before but never met. As I stood there, embarrassed and uncertain of my fate, he told me that he knew where my friend was going and offered to give me a ride.
“It’s all good,” he smiled coolly, “come on … we’re all going to the same party.”
Party? There wasn’t time for another party. If I wasn’t home in the next forty-seven minutes, my mother was going to KILL me!
But he was persistent and confident that he could get me to the party in time to find my friend, call a taxi and make it home before curfew. And because I had never taken a cab before and was nervous about going alone, I decided to take him up on his offer.
What could possibly go wrong?
There is a moment of clarity just before something bad is about to happen: a slow-motion obstacle of certainty where time stands still in a peaceful shroud of doom. In a strange way, there is comfort at this moment, but it is often short-lived and abolished by fear. My moment came when I realized that there were no longer any streetlights, houses, people or cars reflecting inside of my window.
It was a sham. There was no party, and things were about to get a whole lot darker.
When he pulled over to advise me of my rights, he submitted two options: I could either f*ck him or get out and walk. There were no cell phones back then and even if there were, I had no idea where I was. All I knew was that I was a sixteen-year-old virgin who was terrified and confused on a deserted and mysterious street with no one around for miles, and I had to make a decision.
I remember asking if he was serious as I was reaching for the door handle to let myself out. I wanted him to smile and tell me that it was all a big joke, but instead, he sped off like a jackal and left me standing in the dark, where I stood for another ten minutes: free as a bird without wings.
It’s been more than thirty years since that hellish night on the street, but not much has changed with me. At times, I still feel like a sixteen-year-old girl, caught up in a web of deception and fear, unsure who I can trust. And yet, I do not stand alone, because the innocence that once adorned our illuminated streets are now saturated with reckless abandonment.
We have failed ourselves as a society by substituting a single desire with corruption, envy, and greed, and the more entwined we become in that blatant resistance toward love; the harder it is to escape. The good news is that we can do it, but change does not occur by accident. For a transformation of this magnitude to exist, there must be intent and a considerable amount of tenacity from all walks of life.
We must each be willing to live authentically with an immortal desire to be good if we want to make this thing work. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you want out of life. What matters is how you go about getting it and whether or not you are sincere in your efforts. In other words: say what you mean and mean what you say, because manipulation begets manipulation and enthusiastic consent requires trust.
It is a simple formula for extraordinary success and there’s only one ingredient. You just have to know where to look.
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