When I was a teenager my girlfriend asked me to come with her to visit her older brother, who lived in a town about 80km away. I said I would do that. I was looking forward to spending time with her and to meeting her brother, whom she had never mentioned before. Unfortunately, he was not a good man. He was married and had three small children, and he would act like a loving father, but it soon became clear that he was an abusive douchebag. We were having lunch and he dished up everyone’s plate. No helping yourself to whatever portion you could handle. He piled food on and made it clear that everything had to be eaten up. His five-year-old could not finish his potatoes. The man had put a pile of potatoes about the size of a baseball mitt on this kid’s plate! He immediately got extremely angry and started verbally abusing his child. When the child began to cry he swatted him across the face with a hard back hand. Everyone at the table was terrified of what was coming next. I took the child on my knee to comfort him and said if he could not finish it, then I would finish it for him. Having a father like that myself, I was somewhat skilled at dealing with this type of behavior in a way that would de-escalate it.
When we left I told my girlfriend that she needed to report this type of abuse. She refused because he was her brother and, frankly, he scared the shit out of her. So, unbeknownst to her, I reported him. Apparently a social worker went to assess the situation and decided to not pursue it. That made me sick to the stomach. I still wonder at times whatever happened to those kids and if any of them survived that monster. It was not long after that visit by the social worker that my girlfriend broke up with me. She was angry that I reported it, and knew I was the only one who would have. I knew that this was a possibility, but did not care. I was more concerned with the safety of those kids.
Now, some of my readers may not agree with my decision or how it unfolded. Might I remind you I was only 16 and had no power beyond what I did. At that time I really wished that I was more skilled in hand-to-hand combat, but that part of my life came into effect years later. And some may even take exception to my discussing this type of thing in a blog because it is uncomfortable to deal with. Well, the world is chuck full of uncomfortable things, so buckle up, Buttercup, because life is one hell of a RIDE!
This was just one experience around a child being force-fed. I had experienced that type of thing on a daily basis when growing up. And that might be why I was so appalled by it, or “triggered” as some may say. Nonetheless, I believe that I did the right thing in protecting him, getting my girlfriend and myself out of there without harm, and reporting his sorry ass. I did not care that 5km down the road I had to get out of the car and throw up from over-eating. As much as I hated vomiting, I would have hated to see that small child go through that even more.
This is just one ugly example of force feeding. There are a lot of other ways in which we get force fed in our world and we often don’t even know that it is happening. Think about your standard magazine rack in your grocery store. Here you will find ample examples. You will see cover stories that force feed our morbid curiosities regarding celebrities. You will find images that set unrealistic standards for body shapes and size for both women and men. You will find advertisements that try to sell us things that we don’t even need (or did not think we needed until a certain image hooked us). You will find all sorts of these ads on t.v as well. This is why I tend to record programs on the PVR and fast forward through all that malarkey. You will see on the television and hear on the radio all kinds of corporate driven “news” that has nothing to do with reality. It does not matter what “source” they are quoting, mainstream media is for sale to the highest bidder and that highest bidder is the one who decides what news is reported, when it is reported and how it is spun.
Dogmatic beliefs is another example of force feeding. This you will find in most religions. I know that some of my readers get a wee bit distressed by my crass opinions on organized religions, because those religions give them a sense of belonging to a community. And I am not here to say that absolutely everyone who is religious is bad, not by any stretch. But the fact of the matter is that from the first day that any religion was formed it became a tool that was used for crowd control more than anything else, no matter how wrapped up in “love” it claims to be. It is my hope that some of the very fine people within said religions will step up and take an active part in turning that around. I have faith in you, so please do your best to do that.
Something that does actually help one to escape the force feeding aspect of our world is critical thinking. This means to not take everything at face value. It means to do research and look for multiple sources outside of mainstream media and religion and find what is actually going on in our world. It is not necessarily up to each individual to try to change everyone’s perspective, based on their research. To do so is to also participate in a form of force feeding. But it is up to us as individuals to make our own decisions about things and to go with that, respectfully allowing everyone else the opportunity to find their own way in the process. And yes, as we free ourselves from the force feeding that the world around us is determined to shove down our throats, there will be moments of purging that are uncomfortable at best and a bit torturous at worse. But stick with the process of that purging. It is always worth the effort.