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What a week! The future king of England marries a poised and beautiful commoner, President Obama slaps the “birther” movement upside the head with his long form birth certificate, and U.S. forces fight their way into Osama Bin Laden’s fortified Pakistani hideout and assassinate the terrorist leader.


For our purposes this week, the love story that played out in Westminster Abbey is most instructive. For the most part, we 21st century earthlings are a jaded bunch. Despite our love of mythical adventures such as Harry Potter, we don’t believe much in Truth or chivalry. And we oppose inherited privilege. And yet, the marriage of His Royal Highness William Arthur Philip Louis to Kate Middleton made us hope, if not believe for a moment, that those of noble character not only exist, but sit on the highest seats in the land.

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Hollywood has produced a crop of hit movies about mind control.  Bob Mondello’s excellent April 15th piece on NPR’s All Things Considered, Movies That Mess with Your Mind, is a great review of four recent hits about struggling to control one’s mind and life:  Inception, The Adjustment Bureau, Limitless and Source Code.

The gist of each plot is that contemporary men and women are losing control of their very selves; and further, that there are insidious and pervasive others who control us. In our highly connected, media-soaked lives, it’s easy to think that this is a new phenomenon. It’s not.

The late great psychologist, Abraham Maslow, wrote that the vast majority of people “do not make up their own minds… They are pawns to be moved by others rather than self-moving, self-determining individuals. Therefore, they are apt to feel helpless, weak, and totally determined. They are prey for predators, flabby whiners rather than self-determining, responsible persons.”

Ouch! It’s bad enough that we’re “pawns to be moved by others,” but Maslow has to throw in that we’re “flabby whiners” too. (No wonder the hottest consumer product these days is the new girdle, Spanx.) Setting aside America’s weight problem, how is it that most of us are pawns, to be moved about by others?
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