I woke up this morning with the burning question on my mind for why there is a need for people to control others. The burning question came from a conversation the other day at work where a colleague made a comment that so many of us on my team at work are fighting not to be controlled. My immediate gut reaction was, “well, who in their right mind would want to be controlled?”

Control means having the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events; it’s determining behavior and the supervision or running of the behavior. As a parent, one needs to control the behavior of children and the environment that they create for them in order to shape their lives so that they eventually grow up to be productive adults. At work, controls need to be put in place around processes and ways of working so that an environment where everyone belongs and can bring their best contributions to work can and make a difference in the work and the people they serve. This is a control that is necessary because it seeks to make things better. However, anytime one uses their power and influence to control others in a way that causes them to lose their God-given freedom, choice, voice, and peace of mind, break family lineage and cause systemic ‘isms’, and imbed self-doubt and strife is control gone awry. Control is a double-edged sword that can be used for good and used for bad.

Control in the wrong hands brought slavery to this country. And while slavery helped build this country’s infrastructure and wealth, it also created a way of being that said that people of color had no right to be human beings. Control said people of color could not exercise their God-given freedoms and voice because of the color of their skin. Control kept women and people of color from being able to exercise their rights as human beings to vote. As we saw in our last election, voter suppression reared its ugly head again as it did during the civil rights era and said once again, “you don’t count, you have no rights”.

Control is the root of oppression that affects people from all walks of life resulting in Racism, sexism, ageism, domestic violence, human trafficking, homophobia, discrimination, etc. Control left unchecked becomes a disease that strips away human decency where one or a group of people believe that they are entitled to control others and strip away their rights as human beings; their right to choose. Control in the wrong hands has a voice that says, “I am above you and you are beneath me, you’ll do as I say and want, you have no rights.”

Control in the right hands can cause a parent to shape the life of their child to grow up and become someone great; someone who enriches the life of everyone that they come in contact with. Control can cause a nation to be great and provide opportunities to be in this world and feel like one belongs to it. Control can bring freedom and provide choices; it can open up opportunities for people no matter what race, color, or socioeconomic background one comes from so that they can realize and live out their dreams.

I choose every day to manage what I have control over and that is me, my mind, my actions, my way of being. I choose to control how I interact and treat others; like the God-given treasures that they are. What are you controlling and how does it shape the lives of the people around you?