“In stating these matters, I speak an open and disinterested language, dictated by no passion but that of humanity. To me, who have not only refused offers, because I thought them improper, but have declined rewards I might with reputation have accepted, it is no wonder that meanness and imposition appear disgustful. Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” –Thomas Paine, Rights of Man
Words written in 1791, hold true even more today, in times where the powerful are only imposing their views and beliefs on the weaker ones. The mentality is the same, be it nations or people. The very word “imposing” has a burdensome connotation. It is defined as “1.To lay on or set as something to be borne, endured, obeyed, fulfilled, paid, etc.: to impose taxes; 2. to put or set by or as if by authority: to
impose one’s personal preference on others.” Governments impose taxes, and in the interest of national security a curfew.
Governments have reasons to impose. Some reasons are justified, some not so. But when individuals impose their views, their authority or personal preference on others, it is a clear theft of freedom. We all deal with such imposing people in our everyday life, where we know there is a major breach of boundaries and that we’re dealing with somebody who just doesn’t gel on the core values, and when they introduce something in a fashion that directly or indirectly communicates that we must do it ‘or else…’, or where they try to force us to accept their inappropriate behaviour.
We can argue that we have a choice to be imposed upon or not. Of course, we do have a choice; it’s just that the imposer has decided that we ‘should’ only take up their preferred option. When we decline, suddenly they’re overriding our no, rebuffing any concerns; in fact, belittling us and resorting to emotional blackmail and even downright insults.
Recent studies have shown that only people who have respect issues impose themselves upon you. You’re not the only person that they do this with. They may not even recognize their behaviour, but they have little empathy and concern for people who are in their way. They have never truly considered things from your position or even if they have, they don’t care or simply feel that the end justifies the means.
The right to make our own choices is a precious one. We grow when we have the freedom to decide our own paths and determine what makes us happy. Yet there are those who are inclined to try and control others. They may be driven by insecurity, envy, fear, or the need for power. These people are deeply critical of themselves in their own minds, and underlying that critical nature is unhappiness. Their need to feel sure-footed and secure is quenched by controlling those around them, whether they are family, friends, colleagues, or even pets.
Trying to impose your will on others can be tempting for many reasons. You may feel that your way is the best way or that you have a keener insight into the direction of other people’s life. But, in imposing your will, you are indirectly saying, “I want to control you.” Even when you have the best of intentions, others may end up resenting you for your actions. It is always helpful to remember that it is possible to influence people and change their behaviour through suggestions or by example without imposing your will on them.
Coming from the legal profession, we know that there is a plaintiff and a defendant, the prosecution and the defence. We are taught that there are always two sides of a coin. The party that finally wins the case is because of the logic and merit in their case. It is not an arbitrary imposition of their views. Our professors in law colleges taught us to reason and argue. They didn’t impose on us. We would be killing the human mind, its intellect and creativity by imposing on it. All the conflicts that are taking place today in the world, are because a small handful of powerful, be it nations, communities or people, are trying to impose their views, opinions, preferences on others by force and under duress. Freedom and Imposition are antonyms.