have you ever

have one of those moments where you are in full stride and then suddenly…whoops…you have no idea in hell what you were just doing?

I think I am still suffering from the deep waves of contemplation that started rising after yesterday’s concentrated focus on “things we normally don’t think much about.”

The Thanksgiving thing is almost ready, I got up at 4 to try and get it to everyone who needs to see it before it goes live.

I am trying to ignore the mad kitten who is just…lolling on the bed behind me. She is such a corrupting influence. She knows that monday is nap day but keeps trying to extend it into tuesday. Her little friends have moved into the other side of the cave, she spends time over there playing. Sometimes she brings a “friend” over to the warm side. It amazes me that she can run around with a mouse in her mouth in the house for ten minutes and then put him down and he is fine. She got carried away with one of them the other night and as soon as she put the mouse down he read her the riot act and she finally ran away. I have never heard such…pissed off squeaking before. I have to remember to put a little kibble and water on the other side for them.

One of the things I am learning these days is a simple phrase and rule. “If you are, do.” Of course, you have to be mindful that what you are doing is really “something” and not just pushing things around into a kind of new order. But that phrase makes things much easier to handle. If you are a writer, then write. If you are trying to write for public view (or create anything) then find a way to show it publicaly and get feed back to help yourself develop as a public person.

If you believe in certain things that are a part of your identity, then do things that reflect them. And I am not talking that reflect like in a mirror. Have an album of actions that are effective evidence. One of the keys to this, especially in any type of social justice activism is to pay attention to who else is involved in what you are getting together to actively do. If the population you are advocating for is not included in the action or a part of the structuring team, then I have news for you, you are merely holding up mirrors for each other.

People miss that MLK, Ghandi, Tolstoi and others like them, while addressing immediate needs of a specific group at times, always remained focused on the striving for justice for all. Their organizations were inclusive of all, their philosophies spoke beyond the immediate action to embrace those that needed to come.

It is all so very tricky and what is needed most (here we go again, haven’t heard this from me in a while) is patience. Patience is an active skill that allows you to evaluate and discern the directions of your decisions and actions based upon independent thinking. Independent thinking is the process of coming to your own conclusions about things and working out from there. It is a rarity these days because even our most liberal, anarchistic or rebellious thinkers usually have just adopted someone else’s structure rather than have the patience to sit through and discover if they agreed with it.

Consumerism extends beyond material goods to ideas and opinions as well.

Patience does not mean that you sit and not do while waiting for an ephiphany. Patience means you become willing to do and know that you will make mistakes, but you reserve the right to change as you grow. Like pacifism; pacifism does not mean “to be passive” it means to be in opposition to violence as a means of settling disputes. Non-resistance in pacifism means to not resist those who try to stop you by not engaging within the framework of violence, and more importantly, not stopping.  Violence, as I have been talking about recently, is more then physical acts. It lies in the very nature of our words and actions and can be committed through omission of action as well.

And just to touch on that evil thing again. The thinking is that there are three types of people born into the world. Those that are incapable of being anything but evil. Those that can go either way but are dependent on the development of a moral conscience based in action to determine how they go. And those that are born incapable of evil, but, that does not necessarily mean they are good. Without a developed moral conscience based in action these people may permit and support evil through their omission and passivity. These people, are perhaps, the most disordered of all for they bear the brunt of shame and guilt in their lives. The working definition of evil is anyone who consciously chooses to sacrifice the well being of another for their own, and in doing so, with awareness, has no capacity for guilt or shame in regards to that choice. They will, caught out or having caught on to the impact of their choice, create a framework of justification that does not deny the action, but creates a situation in which the guilt or shame is rendered impotent because they justify the acceptability of their choice. The problem always lies with the other person, in other words.

We all do this to some extent. But people who are not evil or developing the pattern of evil as the predominate drive of their life, retain shame. Shame is that which you feel that no one else can ever see. It can be irrational and, it is connected to the ability to have empathy. Evil people lack the capacity for empathy.

It should be pointed out that anyone can learn to be compassionate, for compassion is a choice based upon a self-relation to what is happening to someone else.

Empathy is based upon a momentary loss of self in connecting to another’s experience. It is an intuitive form of connection in which the boundaries between you and I, disappear.

Compassion is based in boundaries because you understand, have compassion for, someone else, because you can relate to it through your own experience and imagine what things must be like for them. The first step of compassion is an absolute negation of the other person’s experience because you are remembering and connecting to your own. Then you return to them.

With empathy, there is no thought that you and they are separate.

This is why it is said that compassion must be learned, but to have empathy, we must unlearn everything we have about identity.


c.2010 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.


About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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