Political Theater

Policing the norms

The dynamic in a dysfunctional family maintains itself through elaborate procedures that perpetuate their norm by maintaining a mythology that celebrates the systemic abuse that holds it together.

The ongoing dramatizations of these myths maintain their power. Each member has a role to play. And, so long as we remain enthralled by them, we are not only trapped in their horrors; we are active participants in their continuation.

These dynamics go on generation after generation. An example of how robust a pathological state can be. Once established, even the most harmful system of behavior will maintain itself for a very long time unless those who are in it find a way to disengage despite the difficulties arrayed against them by the system’s own defenses.

So long as we seek validation through external means, focusing on how we play our role; we cannot escape. These roles make us protagonists in dysfunctional dramas. We end up sacrificing our lives so they can continue.

The Spectacle, political, and mass-media – and now social-media-driven aggregations – function in the same way. The same roles played to the hilt.

The actors that populate these wider stages are good. They arise through our last working meritocracy; an elaborate system of finding and promoting role-players through celebrity. There are branches with plenty of overlap. Entertainers who become politicians, and vice versa.

At this grander, global, scale the function of these dramas remains the same.

How do we respond? What is behind the difficulty we have breaking free?

Any attempt to leave these dramas behind is not only attacked from outside us as disturbing the status quo; it is continually eroded from within. The story we are expected to enact seems so complete. We find it hard to believe that it’s not all just as we’re told it is. Our Enormity is so hard to grasp because we cannot help but doubt that anything this big could be so messed-up. We doubt our own perceptions. “Everyone else goes along…” And, we doubt our own center.

We doubt our center. Drowning in a flood of unintended consequences amid the ravings of nightmares of reason, we still find it hard to walk away from the Realm of Negotiation. Even as we contact and connect with our own centers the habits of Ego-dominance, coupled with our immersion in a dysfunctional power-mad culture, tear away at our integration. It’s not just a matter of temptation. Considering the choice between a good and an evil as a path strewn with enticing temptations misses the mark. It is an artifact of the detour religion has taken in the last few thousand years.

Any glimpse of what it is like to be strong, to be integrated inside, and in relationship outside the boundaries imposed by Ego; brings us an immediate sense of well-being. We contact Joy and we are introduced to fulfillment – instead of retracing the manic loop of desire-leading-to-disappointment we’ve been conditioned to see as “The Pursuit of Happiness.” There is no contest. Once we have experienced Quality we know the sham of its counterfeit.

It’s what we do with our discovery that makes us susceptible to sliding back. We doubt it. We recoil at how effortless it is. Indoctrinated in the cult of striving, we don’t trust it. And, from there we rush off into amassing reasons….

Ego reasserts itself. Shame, guilt, disappointment – all the symptoms of our dis-ease – return. We welcome the return to our old suffering. “It’s what we know.”

We’re welcomed back into the fold. Others – the ones we think are comfortable, at least resigned to the old ways – welcome our renewed complicity. We reenter an ersatz community. We can be busy again.

We’ve thrown our selves off-balance. Our strength undermined. We have surrendered our equilibrium and this is what makes us susceptible to fall back into the whole mess again. Once we have slipped away from our balance and strength the inducements of power, and the illusions of certainty it tempts us with, regain their grip. Having given-up our strength, we are weak. In weakness we seek out comfort. We forget the difference between misery and suffering.

The norm has been defended.

At what cost?

Within a dysfunctional family the price paid is in unnecessary misery and suffering cascading through the generations. In this culture the cost has compounded to the point where we have placed most, if not all, of life in danger of extinction. We have institutionalized dysfunction and trapped the whole weorld in the results of our shared complicity.

All these facts can so easily be taken as fuel as we seek reasons to negotiate over which system of preconceptions – we call them ideas, ideologies, political platforms, world views – we should adhere to. Which ones we should fight against. Merrily we abandon the moment of existence/creation and use the extremity of our Enormity as just another excuse.

How do we resist the policing of norms? How do we counter the effects of political theater?

We don’t. We stop resisting. We stop fighting.

Every moment within attention is a moment lived, not wasted. Every moment lived is life expressing itself through us.

There is no resistance. No struggle.

Faced with the false choice presented, pushed on us, forced on us, we choose to live.


Fulfill each moment.

Simple, yet so hard for us to grasp. Perhaps grasping is the wrong way to approach it?

This returns us to the depth of our predicament. We are so far from the habits we call instincts in other creatures that we can hardly imagine an alternative to placing our selves at the mercy of Ego-illusion.

A glimmer of light enters if we can see how we constantly trade away the opportunity to live for some false-promise of certainty-in-the-future. Watch for this reflex. We don’t need to will a change. In fact, believing this is possible is itself a fundamental error brought on by our predicament. In the stillness – if we let it and don’t squash it with reflexive reactions – the moment shows itself. Its fulfillment within a relationship between what we call us and everything else shows itself.

We act.


And we move on.





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.

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