Law in Contemporary Society

Serpents, Simians, and Stockholm Syndrome: Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth

-- By MeronWerkneh - 01 Apr 2016

In a realm—one father than you can imagine, and yet closer than you think—there was a land called Auldania. Though it was still relatively young, Auldania distinguished itself from the other lands in the realm because it remained the most enchanting place to live. Gilded with a meticulously crafted image of opulence, Auldania attracted creatures from many lands who wanted to indulge in the gifts it had to offer.

Now unbeknownst to creatures, there were other forces at work in Auldania—dastardly, deadly forces that proceeded undetected. This brings us to the Wizards. The Wizards were cunning and crafty creatures who used their magic to control Auldania and all its inhabitants. Their ultimate goal was to take the thing that the creatures loved the most—their talismans. However, there is an age-old rule that talismans cannot be taken forcefully; they must be surrendered. To make matters more complicated, the Wizards could not use their magic to force the creatures into surrendering their talismans because their magic was bound by the Great Scroll. To achieve their feat, then, the Wizards had to get creative.

As fate would have it, much unrest in the land led to the search for a new Leader. After time spent searching, debating and deliberating, the creatures of Auldania—with the occasional magical nudge—found two contenders for Leader: the serpent and the ape. Now, neither of them were attractive choices initially, but, as the Wizards knew, fear is a funny thing; the process generated enough anxiety at the thought of the opponent being Leader that each contender gained support by default. Although the creatures did not trust the serpent, finding it to be conniving and underhanded, it presented itself well and was an engaging and persuasive speaker. Conversely, the ape, though volatile and brutish, had a reputation for being tough and relentless. And eventually, the creatures found the feces-flinging to be quite entertaining.

And so it went on. The two dueled and debated, dodged and degraded their way through the selection process. The creatures became increasingly more divided, ironically causing even more unrest than before. But of course, this was exactly what was meant to happen. Caught up in the clamor, the creatures failed to recognize the two for what they really were. They were choosing between the devil they knew, and the devil they didn’t. They were choosing between having their talismans stolen outright, or while they were sleeping. They thought they were choosing, but they were not choosing at all. But this, the Wizards knew, was ancillary. Known for their ability to brilliantly adorn that which was hollow, the Wizards orchestrated an ingenious display with quite the pernicious purpose.

It was theater. And it did exactly what theater is supposed to do. When performed well, complete with the right cast and the right support, theater can bring the audience on stage and make them feel as if they are in the show, in the moment. Engrossed and enamored; unaware of the reality around them. Trapped in the spectacle.

And the Wizards had cast perfectly.

It was theater. And as you know, the greater the show, the more there is happening behind-the-scenes. And backstage, the Wizards were busy. While the creatures were distracted by the show, the Wizards continued to whittle away at the creatures’ ability to hold on to their talismans. They incited conflicts and conjured beasts to get the creatures to exchange their talismans for what they believed to be protection. They gave the creatures new and exciting powers, without telling them it would allow the Wizards to come into the creatures’ homes whenever they wanted. The creatures battled and bled to protect Auldania, while leaving their own precious talismans vulnerable to attack. They put their faith in the Wizards, who capitalized on their naiveté. The relationship was parasitic; an ill-fated love that always ended in tragedy for the host. It was Stockholm’s Syndrome, with a Shakespearean twist.

It was unlikely that the creatures would ever realize what was happening without recognizing Auldania for what it had become: a Fabergé egg with a rotten yolk. They confused and conflated allegiance to the Great Scroll and its tenets as being a good and faithful Auldanian, willfully blind to the fact that its efficacy had become as outdated and tattered as the parchment. Some stood apart. Some spoke out. But most of the creatures were much too enchanted by the show.

And so it appeared that the Wizards had outwitted the Auldanians once more. It is unclear who became Leader, but it did not much matter to the Wizards. For their plunder, the beloved talismans, were soon to arrive—and all with the creature’s consent.

For fear, it seems, is a funny thing indeed.

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r3 - 13 Jun 2016 - 20:23:06 - MeronWerkneh
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