Being Stuck

Déjà Vu is a common experience for those stuck in abusive situations. We find that the current crisis looks much like the last. No amount of feigned surprise, or pronounced insistence from the abusers that, “This time is different!” can shake the feeling we’ve been here before.

And, most likely, we’ll be here again. If we survive long enough.

The “world stage” continues to present the same sort of experience. The same failures of vision, lack of wisdom, and doubling down with failed strategies; present themselves again and again. The only changes are the constant increase in latent damage and a sense that each missed opportunity will see things ultimately even worse than they might have been.

Of course, this level of awareness does not bring any change. It is, in fact, part of the mechanism that maintains the status quo. The drama of blind power and sighted victims is central to how the process unfolds. It is part, perhaps the central part, of the rituals of a certain faith.

In an abusive family that faith can often be found to reside in the power and ultimate goodness of the abusive parent himself – usually, though not exclusively a him. And let’s not forget that every adult in the mix is equally culpable of perpetuating the faith by their continued presence, if nothing else. There are “sides.” There must be a drama to incorporate and embody belief. Every misdeed, every abuse, and every reaction; is part of a drama intended to keep the story going. Everyone has a role. Everyone sees themselves as wronged, misunderstood, put-upon.

Some roles have all the power. Others have most of the damage inflicted upon their actors. Some are “destined” to “win.” Others, to “lose.” And the story goes on, and on, and on.

No one puts much energy into defying the underlying belief. Some are cast as “objectors.” Their role is to antagonize the powerful one. That is not the same thing as disbelieving.

There is tremendous power in this. Countless people have been destroyed rather than make the effort to break free. Within the belief, “There is no choice!” Anything but continuing the drama is unthinkable.

Drama has its entertainments. When one’s life is devoid of any possibility of discovering an intrinsic meaning it does pass the time to play one’s role.

Perceived injustice is the greatest form of license. It provides an unfettered Ego with all the justification it needs to maintain its control over individuals.

Everyone sees injustice, even Hitler. He strove to fight injustice just as vigorously as those he threatened to destroy. Within his own mind, he was right.

“But! But!”

A powerful appeal.

“Surely my conception of injustice is the right one!”

“I’ll never abuse it!”

“I’m the victim here!”

No one wants to let go of this perceived power.

See how the mechanism works? The source of its power over us?

Bringing up the Chancellor has brought us back to the world stage. This same mechanism writ large. Many of us strive to see this clearly. Hoping for ways to make a change in course.

But how many are seriously interested in leaving their scripted roles behind?

We get angry at our “leaders.” They betray us again and again.

We get angry at the “bosses.” They fail to see the errors of their ways. Again and again.

We get angry at each other. “A bunch of Sheeple! Zombies!”

We take on roles in opposition. We struggle with our failures to “make a difference.”

When confronted with the futility of these roles we attack the messenger. We get angry at some detail of the situation. We run towards the nearest excuse to forget the question so we can get back to running after “answers.”

“There must be something!”

That is our justification when all else fails to allow us back into the comforting and deadly roles we are accustomed to acting in.

And so it goes.

We are stuck.

Not because we are oppressed. Not because we lack the power to have our wills predominate.

We are stuck because we refuse any other way of being. To actually be unstuck would be not only to defy the bad parent. It would mean walking away from the entire drama. Walking away from all we are accustomed to believing. Even when that belief is hidden from us behind layers of mythological obfuscation.

Any rebellion, any reacting to a perceived grievance from an “enemy,” is an acceptance of a role within the overarching belief system we are nominally rebelling against.

This holds for reformers, for revolutionaries. Even for criminals and anarchists, Oh My!

None of us ever “fights” against a belief we no longer hold. We walk away from it. We are oblivious to it. It joins the infinite number of possible but un-tendered beliefs out there, like – here the mind boggles. I could say belief in unicorns, or left handed posies, or any outlandish thing. But truly un-tendered beliefs, even if they may have once existed in some untraceable past, are truly inconceivable. That is the place for whatever belief underlies our current predicament. It’s where it could end up if we walked away from it.

“Walking away.” That still isn’t the right way to say it. It implies a negative path, “Badness is that way, I’ll go in the opposite direction.”

It is more like waking from a dream. After some moments of disorientation we shake our heads and get on with things. After a short while we are unable to even recall what the dream was about. It ceases to be as our attention leaves it and focuses elsewhere.

When was the last time any of us tried to do this?

“Tried….” That’s not quite the right word either. We “try” things all the time. Especially when we don’t believe we will actually do them.

You see how deeply this whole thing is defended?

So much easier to find an enemy. Especially one that caricatures our own faults. If we are sensitive to injustice, then our enemies are the ones who flaunt their insensitivity. If we are “responsible,” then we are enraged by those “hippies….”

We all breathe a sigh of relief. The drama continues. We have a role.

Meanwhile the situation continues to deteriorate as each round takes us deeper and deeper into not merely cognitive dissonance, but a dissonance between where we are and where we will inevitably end up.

We each find our own hell. Actually we create it, since such a thing does not otherwise exist. This hell is a game of chicken. Who will be the last one standing to be able to say, “I was right! My enemies were wrong!”

That “winner” will have a short and miserable reign in a depleted and devastated world.

Once we might have had the luxury of innocence in this regard. “Surely it would never come to this!”

Since 1945, the year that Chancellor ended his thousand year Reich in his bunker below a devastated Berlin at the center of a decimated Europe. The year of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The birth of Mutually Assured Destruction. We have not had that appeal to innocence available to us. For three quarters of a century this world has embraced the belief that it is better to be dead than wrong. The layers of obfuscating prevarication that had hidden this over the course of millennia having fallen aside. – Truly one of the great clarifications presented to us in this moment of clarity we inhabit.

The technologies of destruction have proliferated. The definition of wrong has oscillated around certain standard responses, but no one has wavered in their belief that this is our supreme destiny.

Is it?

Published by Antonio Dias

My work is centered on attending to the intersection of perception and creativity. Complexity cannot be reduced to any given certainty. Learning is Central: Sharing our gifts, Working together, Teaching and learning in reciprocity. Entering into shared Inquiry, Maintaining these practices as a way of life. Let’s work together to build practices, strengthen dialogue, and discover and develop community. Let me know how we might work together.

2 thoughts on “Being Stuck

  1. We are stuck because we refuse any other way of being. To actually be unstuck (…) would mean walking away from the entire drama. Walking away from all we are accustomed to believing. Even when that belief is hidden from us behind layers of mythological obfuscation.

    Indeed so:

    Walking away from the entire drama. Who dares…?


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