Are we really that gullible?

One of the most valuable tools of a writer is a dictionary. When I was a college student I carried a dictionary with me to class. I used to page through that heavy red book on a daily basis.


Times sure have changed. I still look up words every day, but now I can do so by simply clicking on a link and typing in the word I need to find. You are never too old to expand your vocabulary.


One of the words I looked up in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary this week was “manipulate.” There are several definitions for manipulate. For me, the connotations this word brings immediately to mind are “to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage” or “to change by artful or unfair means so as to serve one’s purpose.”


Are you someone who manipulates other people to get what you want? Personally, I know many people who are very good at manipulating others. I do not view manipulators as credible people. The skillful manipulator is basically an untrustworthy person. When you are really good at constantly manipulating other people to get your way you lack integrity, in my opinion. Like the preceding definition says, manipulation is used to gain something unfairly.


One way to manipulate people is by withholding or distorting the truth. There are many people who twist the facts of a situation in order for things to go their way. This kind of manipulation happens when someone who wants to deceive purposely leaves out vital information when giving an account of events. Or they will change their story depending on who is listening. Remember folks, manipulators have no scruples and they are usually pathological liars!


Deep down, those of you who manipulate your way through life are probably very unhappy. It takes a lot of energy to work on other people just to get your way. I would rather have other people decide for themselves regarding issues which I am passionate about. I made a personal effort to stop manipulating people a long time ago. Sure we all want others to support the same things we do but life isn’t always about everyone else wanting what we desire. We are all individuals with our own free will.


In addition, organizations often suffer from the covert tactics used by a manipulator. When manipulation occurs within an organization, it compromises the integrity of the entire workplace. Oftentimes when an employee is terminated from their job, they will seek retaliation by manipulating the upper echelons in order to harm other people who work in the organization.


Even worse are those people who manipulate a situation, then vehemently deny having anything to do with it because they seek to deceive everyone. When you catch them in a deceitful act, they will try to blame someone else. They will say anything necessary to convince you that it is another co-worker or a supervisor who has distorted the situation when in reality it is the manipulator him or herself doing it.


Thankfully, human beings can evolve. When you make an effort to stop manipulating people, you will become transparent. Hidden agendas are no longer needed. Your experience as a reformed manipulator often gives you the insight to spot another who works to deceive others. When you become transparent it is very easy to see manipulators for who they really are.


I asked my friends on Facebook what thoughts came to mind with the word manipulator. Most of the comments I received focused on the negative things manipulative people do on a regular basis. The word manipulate usually reminds people of situations in the past where they were influenced by someone who wanted to get their way and would stop at nothing to do so.


It was very interesting when one Facebook commentator brought up the issue of how our ancestors were manipulated.   For instance, during the 19th century our Itancan gathered with agents of the federal government to negotiate treaties. The representatives who traveled to Lakota Territory on behalf of the great white father carried his hidden agenda with them. They manipulated our ancestors with lies in order to get signatures on a treaty which, over the last 161 years or so, was violated many times, leaving us with our contemporary checkerboard reservations.


Our ancestors were tricked by representatives of the federal government and we are still living under the effects of that deception. Sadly, we now see our own Lakota people doing the same thing to each other! Many of the people living on my own Rosebud Reservation work non-stop to manipulate others. They manipulate spouses, family members, co-workers, elected leaders and tribal officials on a daily basis.


How sad that many Lakota people are getting things to go their way using dishonest tactics. It just isn’t right. This behavior will trickle down to our descendants. We must make a personal, conscious choice to change. That is, if you show your children how to manipulate the system or other people, chances are they will grow up doing the same thing you are.


When we work to manipulate others to get something “by artful, unfair, or insidious means” we are being deceitful. Again, our children learn what we show them. When they are adults they will behave just like we showed them to. I think it is sad to see a majority of Lakota people passing down the traits of manipulation and deception to the coming generations.


If manipulation, deception, dishonesty and unfair tactics are what I am going to teach my descendants to carry on for me, I am really no better than the representatives of the federal government who deceived our ancestors into signing those treaties which were broken many times. We have to stop manipulating one another for the sake of our children. We desperately need role models who act with the same integrity as our Lakota ancestors.


Published by Vi Waln


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