Rituals can connect us to the deepest truths of why politics matters.
A ritual harnessed to a political purpose may help people recommit to a cause, find courage and shared meaning, voice dissent, and build trust.
As anyone who has participated in a candlelight vigil will know, sometimes the act of quietly bearing witness to an injustice in the presence of others can carry more moral force than railing against it. A ritual provides a natural script and symbolism. Even complete strangers naturally fall into a rhythm around it.
Imbuing actions with the pacing and simplicity of ritual increases their power.
Imagine two characters on the street: a military general and a politician, slowly tossing a huge sack of money back and forth across a wide expanse. In between, a regular Joe, sitting forlornly, watches the sack sail back and forth. Nearby, a spokesperson hands out a fact sheet that tells the rest of the story. Often this kind of nonverbal, ritual-like performance, which repeats a simple but visually arresting motion, can be more powerful and effective than a full-length skit crammed with facts and figures.