I recently returned from an unplanned and overly-long stay in the U.S. where I had the opportunity to witness an overly-long campaign for public office begin some two years before the actual election.
Nightly, on television and daily in the print press, each side of the ideological line drawn in the sand, carried on until I was exhausted, as were all my American colleagues and friends -- exhausted from the nightly battles of Washington, D.C. and those of state capitals and legislative bodies. On the North Carolina coast, the September hurricanes I lived through felt like minimal devastation.
This daily news-grind brought to mind my musical past in theatre: symptoms of problematic adolescence are performed and viewed daily—an ongoing recurring performance within the long running musical, The Fantasticks. On stage a chaos (similar to the political scene) is created by two culturally different fathers, neighbors at odds disagreeing about their property boundaries. Lurking in the background: a disaster should their young-adult daughter and son fall in love. And the fathers' solution: build a wall.
But back to the current day and the drama on the political and economic stage. We learn that in business and in politics today, chaos is preferred over order and the reach of actors on this stage extends far beyond Washington and Silicon Valley. The press reports every move, every expression and every reaction, stirring the chaos and the public to a frenzy. We, the audience, are trapped in an out-of-kilter performance, a daily song-and-dance routine of immature, selfish and harmful behaviors from political and corporate leaders.
With the manifestation of the 2016 presidential campaign, American psychologists and mental health professionals have insisted that the press and the public resist analyzing any person or persons not in our care, either in our lab or our counseling office. Consequently, we must observe and critique the chaos of today’s political and economic scene through a third party -- a musical.
InThe Fantastics, we watch a performance of overarching human development rather than behavior of a single elected official or a corporate CEO. We see the performance daily through the news media and it is chaos.
Writ large, political drama is theater, yet frighteningly a model of human behavior (gaslighting) where Ariel Leve (2018), says that “ Nothing means anything, and reality is being canceled”. He describes pointedly the scene in politics and corporate behaviour in the U.S.
So, Why can't I talk about This?
Leve reports: "One of the most insidious things about gaslighting is the denial of reality. Being denied what you have seen. Being denied what you have experienced and know to be true. It can make you feel like you are crazy. But you are not crazy."
Well, I can talk about the problem, if you are willing to read. I will explore what felt to this expat like mental illness among the American public, my American friends and myself! My story is a three-parter. And if you feel you are a captive audience, please avoid this blog for a week or so!