To all who have responded, I offer my sincere thanks. Combined, your answers to my question have put things in perspective for me. When I posed the question, I was guilty of committing my usual mistake of seeing the world as black & white. The problem with that sort of vision, as Bruce Springsteen warns, "you better watch out you don?t step on those spaces in between." You?ve all skillfully and cogently pointed out those spaces for me.
My mother liked to beat her children into submission. By today?s standards, she would have been jailed. I have clear memories from my childhood of walking back to the house with the switch I had been ordered to cut so that I could be whipped, and praying that my mother would be dead when I got back with it. Maybe it was those times which served to forge my rebellious nature. Instead of making me see things her way, I believe my mother taught me to reject authority. As I have been reading your stories and reflecting upon my own life, I can see how my mother?s form of discipline shaped the person I am today, and why I am not energized unless I have an enemy to fight against. Wow! What an insight!
Confucious, you may have a point when you question whether or not I have always been the pilot of my own life. Interestingly, as much as I reject others telling me what to do, I did very well while I was in the military. I was a good soldier, so to speak. I have no explanation for that aberrancy other than at that time in my life I wanted to be a soldier. There were certainly times when I did not like the fact that the DIs had control of every aspect of my life, but I could look in the mirror and see that I was becoming what I wanted to be. My ability to tolerate it may have also been that I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. I knew when my discharge date was.
SixofNine (what a great name!), if there is anything I wrestle with in my relationship with God is my constant wondering if I am serving Him by not belonging to a Church or a group. I?ve lived the last 15 years of my life by the belief that I will never join a group, any group. If there is a group, then there is going to be a leader. At some point our views are bound to differ. This inevitability will lead to my leaving the group because I won?t let someone else chose for me. However, Jesus spoke of building His Church, and the apostles spoke of spreading the good news. Maybe I am a failure in this regard, but it is my choice. If my choice is wrong, then I will have to accept responsibility for it, and I can only blame myself.
Lady Lee, thank you for your insightful response. Your example of women who remain with an abusive spouse is one I have used myself many times when trying to make the point to someone about taking control of their life. And you are right, mind-control takes many, many forms.
Dan, Putemut, Nathan, and everyone else who offered an answer to my question, thank you very much. I first came to this forum to try and unravel the mystery of a friendship which had gone bad between me and a JW I have known for quite sometime. Much to my benefit, I have learned many times more than what I came here to learn, as well as meeting some really great people. I hope to continue cultivating friendships with you all.
Have a great Fourth of July holiday, and it makes me really happy to be able to say that to this particular bunch of people...*smile*