The theater, the theater! What’s happened to the theater? Especially where dancing’s concerned?
Chaps, who did taps, aren’t tapping anymore. They’re doing choreography.
Chicks, who did kicks, aren’t kicking anymore. They’re doing choreography.
Heps, who did steps, they would stop the show in days that used to be.
Through the air they keep flying, like a duck that is dying.
Instead of dance, it’s choreography.
By the late great Irving Berlin from his lovely movie, White Christmas, and performed by the lanky limber-limbed lively laughing Danny Kaye with seriously pony-tailed and eyelinered dancers (he too has a strong eyeliner game!).
Civil discourse, civil discourse! What happened to civil discourse? Especially where politics are concerned? (This is a great companion to the other song running through my head this past week plus… Sedition! Sedition! sung to the Tradition! song from Fiddler on the Roof. Anyone else tune-altering to get through the day? Anyone? Okay. It’s okay. I know… it’s just me *sigh*)
My perspective – civil discourse is a productive and necessary process for our democracy. We need to have varied opinions and perspectives with solid facts, figures, projections, philosophies and passions present and accounted for in a respectful and productive manner. My optimism leads me to believe that most of us are in agreement on this.
We are massively off track at the moment. Too many of us seem to have an unwavering expectation that when we reach out to engage in civil discourse it will be reciprocated. Sometimes it is not, it cannot be returned. When we lose holding people accountable, we lose our credibility and grounding. This is where we lose our democracy. We are arriving at the theater expecting the productive dance of civil discourse. There are many emboldened folks arriving at the theater to execute choreography, obliterating the dance altogether.
It is all theater, of course. But one with a lethal component (which I am, as you know, familiar with).
There is no reasoning or possibility of civil discourse with delusion, sociopathy, or sociopathy by association or programming. As long as we try to pretend that there are two sides to a conversation when one side is clearly showing up in a sociopathic way (check your trusted experts), we will suffer shock, disorientation and grief at the inhumane concessions we are expected or forced to make at their insistence. There are not two sides in this scenario. Promoting inhumanity is what it is – no both-sides-isms.
If you are entering civil discourse with others of different philosophies, opinions, passions etc, there are many many sides of the conversation because you are all entering the political theater with intentions of civil discourse with each other.
There is no civil discourse with sociopaths, with narcissists, with abusers. Only very firm and clearly defined healthy boundaries with very firm and clearly defined healthy consequences.
It’s hard, I know, unless you have had the unfortunate experience to have been in a relationship with someone or even an institution built on abuse. Even in the situation you feel as if you are crazy (which is the point of being abusive btw so that you will fearfully concede and be abused).
There are signs. There are always signs.
(blah blah blah every single town has an, “oh wow! I had NO idea there was abuse happening in that home!” story. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.)
Abusers systematically break down healthy boundaries until you have difficulty reconciling that what they do is hurtful and wrong. They cannot be reasoned with. Unless you are a very skilled and intensive professional with a willing-to-reform abuser, you cannot change them with any of your words, skills, compromise.
Engaging with abusive sociopaths (and those succumbing to their inhumane base as a result of association with a sociopath) to try and reach a compromise is futile and damaging.
There must be consequences, there must be accountability, even if they are the consequences of redefining and expanding our own personal boundaries as we define what accountability means for us (in a healthy and respectful manner).
My heart and soul aches for those who are experiencing the absolute devastation of just now knowing how much is out of your control and how precarious real protection is. Co-workers, family, friends, neighbors cannot protect you and sometimes, even without the ability to recognize it, they will put you directly in harm’s way. The police, the court, security, etc have rules and personal biases which guide them and sometimes put you directly in harm’s way too.
It is hard. It is disorienting. It is not funny, I know. But it is supremely ridiculous.
Apologies from an abuser are hollow at best unless they make great efforts at correction (which rarely if ever happens, also this link is an excellent article from Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg). This is why boundaries, accountability and consequences are so very important – your boundaries, your defined consequences without any expectation from the abuser. Engaging in dehumanizing the abuser is also counterproductive. Lack of consequences for dehumanizing people enough to abuse them is what led us here – avoid it yourself. Zero engagement other than boundaries and accountability.
Entering into some choreographed theater with people who, in any capacity, helped foment the circumstances which led to last week’s scenes at our Capitol building, is futile and harmful to building unity. These fomentors at all levels of society, bear total responsibility for the fear gripping us now. They failed when their country, when we, needed them most. Their failures will never be forgotten. We will persevere and move on with the doing of the things and living of the lives, once we have established our firm boundaries and accountability for all, but this… this knowledge of experience, will never leave us. (paraphrased from Cincinnatian, former politician, and writer, David Pepper)
It is time to let those people go from our feeble futile attempts at reaching out across the schism of humane vs inhumane approach to life as though some reasonable discourse can occur. Treat them with humane regard, everyone deserves that consideration. Then, let them be accountable in whatever way our boundaries allow, so that the rest of us can unite, adult up, get the shit cleaned out, and run forward with engaged civil discourse and a functioning democracy.
Thank you for coming to my TEDious talk today 😉 You’re the best!
*free form tap dances off the stage* *also, not wearing a top hat but yes to the patterned tights*
Love, Ms. Herisme xoxo
“As in theater, the eyes of men, after a well-graced actor leaves the stage, are idly bent on him who enters next.” William Shakespeare Richard III (1595) act 5, sc. 2, 1.23
also, I wrote this yesterday and today listened to Brené Brown, so I am adding this link bc HOLY CRAPtastic y’all she is a consummate professional and says all this much better than I do and with receipts instead of links to White Christmas and a voicebox that works! She’s the package, people. She is THE package. *bows down*