There’s a well-known movement exercise for actors in the theater designed to allow actors to “feel” the balance among the players on the stage. Imagine a platform poised and level on top of a single pointed pyramid. At a signal from the director, each actor on stage moves on his or her own to a new position and it is the duty of each to react to the movement of the others by moving in such a way that the platform remains level, overall. The surface “rebalances” in the mind of each actor as they move in response to the movements of the others. None of them know what the others will do, so they must adjust as the movement takes place. A new ensemble emerges.
This exercise is a compelling metaphor for where we are on the world stage today. At one time, the United States was the heaviest actor on the platform and, as a result saw itself as both actor and director. Today, the other actors are moving, some of them (China, India, Brazil) have gained heft, and it behooves the United States to recognize that movement and adjust accordingly. It is no longer a question of the United States playing both the director and the heftiest actor, shaping the world, and forcing all the others to move — a fantasy that too many in Congress and in the administration still hold dear. It is a question of being on the stage, dealing with new patterns, new weight on the stage — finding a new balance which neither Washington, nor anyone else, can yet define.
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