Bad government is like a bad marriage:

Dear Dr. Brilliant cliché,

Do you have anything to Say about the goings on in Egypt and the Middle East?
Polly Tech

Dear Polly Tech,

Of course I do. Bad government is like a bad marriage. What people do not realize is that each individual has only one set of relationship skills and they apply it to everything from their dog to their god. If a culture treats woman badly and unequally, or if they abuse a minority, these same thought processes and rationalizations will allow for their government to be corrupt and treat all their people poorly and unfairly. There are some basic forms of human manipulation. The same forms present in an unequal marriage can be found in an unfair government: isolation, blame, guilt, intimidation… and the ever present dangling carrot (I will love you IF/you will rewarded IF).
What is significant in Egypt right now is that social media, at least for the current 10 minutes, broke through the individual isolation of that society, debunked the blame (it’s the Jews fault), and removed the guilt (only bad citizens complain.) This is very similar to the sudden epiphany a woman in an abusive relationship has when, after years of isolation, she connects with others who have faced the same abuse and realizes: I was lied to; I was abused; and I am not alone. The Egyptian Youth realized the same thing when they tuned into that Facebook page: they were not alone, oppression was not the norm, and together they might get empowered to make a change.
Propaganda is also the same in a bad marriage as it is in a bad government. There is always someone to blame for your suffering. There are the same manipulative tricks to make you feel that you deserve it, that you asked for it. Change is fueled in a bad marriage the same as it is in a bad government- with good self esteem, good boundaries, and by not allowing oneself to be distracted into blame or owning bullshit. Perseverance and reaching out for help is essential; and it’s important not to let your own fears undermine you.
A final word of caution- in a bad marriage, as in bad government, once the balance of power is shifted the tendency is to make the common mistake of going from the frying pan into the fire. Beware of false profits, easy answers, and opportunists. Relationship skills are necessary to be able to recognize an appropriate partner. Often one dictator is just replaced with another who has a better advertising campaign. Entering a false democracy, one that gives you everything you want, just is not true and will not last.
The idea of different hats is a false one. How people treat others is how they will ultimately treat you. Negotiation is necessary for both parties to actually exist and be of equal power. Connection to the greater world or community is necessary or neither a government or family will be sustainable.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

The Granny Doctor says: my Sensei used to always tell me: “If you want to know what people are really about, don’t listen to what they say; watch what they do.” Politicians and wooing partners all make the most inspiring and motivating speeches… but who knows what will happen when the election has been won or the honeymoon is over? Keep this in mind when voting or dating.


About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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10 Responses to Bad government is like a bad marriage:

  1. Al says:

    Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliche. Seems to me that a bad government is more like a bad arranged marriage than a bad, regular marriage. After all, we don’t individually choose and get our governments and others have more to say about what we end up with than we do ourselves. Also, I’m not sure your extrapolation that a culture which treats women “badly” end up choosing poor governments is necessarily true. First, treating woman “badly” is a cultural relativism. I certainly don’t condone these cultures’ treatment of women by forcing them to wear a veil; but since you’re a philosopher, I wanted to remind you that cultural norms are set within societies and may differ between societies.
    Second, societies, much like individuals can live with cognitive dissonance. How else can we explain our own religious Right’s ideology of simultaneous support for sanctity of life through steadfast condemnation of abortion on the one hand, with their support of wars we wage that results in the loss of innocent lives on the other? The Egyptians got the government they got not because of their choosing; but because we needed stability in that part of the world. It didn’t have much to do with their treatment of women or their religious believes. This is why as soon as we decided that our support did not make any more strategic sense, we pulled support for the government and Mubarak fell.
    In fact, in a broader sense, we must remind ourselves that the entire history of the world over the past century should only be viewed through the lens of the Cold War. The struggle between the East and West culminated into many a proxy wars, puppet governments, direct and indirect manipulation, and unholy alliances by both sides. The current order of the world is a direct byproduct of that school of strategic planning. From Afghanistan to Egypt, a Green Belt of Islamic Fundamentalism was propped up and supported by the West through its proxy, the Saudi government, in order to suppress and fight the southward influence and advancement of the “Godless” Communists in that strategic region. In prospect, it seemed like a great strategy as religion is the moral antithesis to Communism and supporting fundamentalism did make sense as it went hand in hand with Communist suppression in that region of the world. But in retrospect, once the Cold War was over, these vestigial feelings in the region began to spin their own web and soon spun out of control. We now refer to it as blow back! As long as we don’t understand these very basic elements of global strategy that have shaped the face of the Middle East, we’ll always seek answers on the surface to the perplexing questions and wonder why seemingly bizarre events happen before our eyes.
    The seed of many actions have been sown many years ago. Since you’re a fan of Cliches, allow me to share the parable of the Chinese Bamboo tree. When you sow the seed of this tree, the sapling grows a foot long within a few months. It then stops growing for several years while you water and fertilize it on daily basis. After about seven years, all of a sudden, the tree grows a few dozen feet over a period of six months! Now the question is, did it grow that tall in 6 months or over 7 years? Things would have been different if you had stopped watering and fertilizing it over those seven years. Those who understand history understand the course of time and never see events in the vacuum of a given moment; but rather, they understand the complexity of actions and their influence from the inception to realization of an event.
    Anyway. That’s my two cents on the subject. 😉

    • Dear Al,
      Excellent and well stated. I agree that certainly Unequal treatment of women does not determine the entirety of a countries story. On the other hand I still think if an individual is willing to for whatever ideological reason treats those around him as unequal to himself then through the same ideological rationalizations he himself is vulnerable to being treated the same way. I believe the Wicca whatever you do comes back to you, is valid worldwide. I do agree with you that bad government is more like a bad arranged marriage and that current events cannot be explained by any simple means. We are all indeed pawns in a world chess match that was started many years ago.
      Thanks again for your feedback,
      Dr. B.C

  2. Another reader commented on dr.brilliantcliche on face book,

    “You can get a divorce from a marriage but you can’t with the government unless you move out of the country.”

    True enough but defection is kind of a divorce as you point out.

    Dr. B.C.

  3. Elizabeth Aloisio says:

    Speaking of watching how someone treats others reminds me of hearing that If you want to know an important aspect of someones character notice how your they treat, the waitress and animals. The waitress ,(while she is waiting on you) is in a position of submission and animals of cource are always at our mercy. do you agree?

  4. Michelle R. says:


  5. T. says:

    Interesting analysis, Dr BC. I have often thought about why people do what they do – treat people on the service end badly, for example – and have often come to the conclusion that those who are nasty in one aspect of their life are also the same in other areas. Of course, one can be having a bad day once in a while!

    There is an interesting saying in my culture, roughly translated: “If someone is respectful to you, it may not be because YOU are somebody special, but because s/he is a great person”. In other words, when people show kindness to us, it has got nothing to do with who WE are and everything to do with who THEY are! Our words/actions define us.

    Al, thanks so much for your insightful analysis. I agree with your observations fully.

  6. T. says:

    p.s. Great advice, Granny!

  7. Dear T,

    “Our words/actions define us.” – That indeed is the definition of self. We are how we affect others. In the end that is how we will be remembered. I love the Quaker tradition of witnessing. At a wedding or funeral they get up and “speak” the person. Tell how the dead or the betrothed has affected their lives.

    Dr B.C.

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