flame

It’s funny how spring brings out so much in people. The sort of – innate drive for growth and change – is as written in our bodies as it is in plants, flowers and animals that begin to wake from hibernation.

I think, as I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate spring more and more. Fall remains my favorite time of the year, just from its sheer beauty and feel and sense of quiet gathering of strength. But this spring I find myself almost deliriously happy at the promise of dawning life.

A lot of this has to do with my having had a very difficult winter. January and February were without compare in my brief life for being difficult and transformative. And for once I feel like I held my hands up and let them be grabbed a hold of by something else which is lifting me out of long held patterns and diseases of thought – yes, diseases of thought, I think that is the best way to put it.

And I find as my life becomes absolutely burdened with numbers and figures and legalese – some very practical and hard stones based in reality, that my approach to writing poetry has become free and filled with joy. I found myself going from an hour’s worth of giving myself a headache in studying city ordinances to releasing myself like a banshee onto the never-ending process of completing the manuscript I have been working on that contains 10 years worth of my poetry.

Maybe it has something to do with all the babies this weekend, but I am finding it easier to re-arrange, rewrite and also to discard from the manuscript things I have written but that are part of the process of my growth as a writer; not necessarily poems that can stand by themselves.

Part of it also has to do with letting my writing group take a crack at some of the biggies (the Demon, the Executioner) and getting some solid feedback from them, which is all a part of my growing into the City. The last time we met, we went over the Demon and for the first time I got to speak about what it was like to go through creating that poem as a person, how it effected me and how the experience is effecting how I approach the city.

It’s funny how often we dismiss an examination of what it costs each of us to create something that will stand apart from our beings. It is an entire route of birth and grief and joy.

Then again, anything you create – even your self, has that same path. It is only when we get attached to one part of the process and cannot let it go that we get stuck. Paralleling this has been the personal transformation I have been undergoing that has its roots in both understanding some core motivations and also the nature of the boundaries I need in order to grow into a different kind of motivation in my life.

Its funny how we talk about the importance of self-awareness the way we talk about creating, but avoid talking about what it means to the person – in birth, grief and joy – to take that self awareness and create change. Too often we stop at birth and stay on the surface of it with words that acknowledge its presence but no motor skills in walking down the path or emotional skills to handle the grief that comes in initiating boundaries, making choices that enact a response to the awareness; much less learn and practice the art of dancing in joy.

I think it is because those things are uncomfortable. Nothing around us encourages us to embrace being uncomfortable as a part of growth. To say we breed “avoidant personality types” is an understatement. It is more socially acceptable to stay the way you are, to repeat the same things – as long as you have the words to acknowledge it – then it is to enter into the great uncomfortable unknown of change. People get stuck in birth or in grief and very few ever make it to joy. They think they do, but they mistake joy for the thrill of the knowledge of potential birth. Joy is, in and of itself, a state without expectation – it is a state of being and it is unimportant and unconsidered how long the state will last because it is the act of being present.

I have been…without joy for years. I have been aware of that, but accepted the words of the awareness as part of the path of getting there and that is not how it works. Words without action have no meaning and value. It has become too easy in this day and age to become emotionally divorced through the use of words; without the motivation provided by emotion there can be no movement. It’s why people, with certain kinds of strokes that damage the right side of their brain, have to learn to mimic motion through ritual. They lack motivation but can learn rationally to do, but are never truly present for presence requires the ability to be responsive and discern what choices (which may be out of the ritual practice) are appropriate.

In government, we have created something called the “corporate person.” That is the perception of a corporate entity as having rights similar to that as a person; an encoded personification of an abstract entity. The person we have made, however, is someone who has suffered severe damage to the right side of their brain and is incapable of responsive motivation and is dependent on ritual to function. Much the same, at some point, the government also suffered injury to that aspect of its being – but in reality that part of the government’s being is our mass presence, the mass persona of the populace has become impaired and bound by ritual.

I was reminded of this after hearing someone talking about a recent anti-war protest they went to on the anniversary of the start of the Afghan war. They were wondering why it was held on a Saturday when everyone was off involved with St. Paddy day parades et al. The answer is two part – one ritual: an anti-war protest could have been much more effective had it been timed to the pronouncement of the ultimatum on Libya. Secondly, lacking a responsive motivation, most of our activism has become rote, ineffectual and rooted in habit. Its why there are always the same chants, the same signs, the same people there and, why protests are scheduled for days with good weather and convenient times. The expectation that someone would care enough to sacrifice their personal time or risk a bit of their job time or risk thinking things through to come up with a plan rooted in the present – doesn’t exist anymore because the blanket expectation is that no one is really committed. We repeat things that people who had a true commitment – in India, in Montgomery, in Tiannamen – we mimic their sacrifice and motivation, but have none of our own.

On a side note, someone asked me why I, as I am identified as a human rights activist, there are certain issues I do not appear to be out in support of. Well, there is a difference between human rights and civil rights. They overlap a lot of the time but in other cases, they do not. There are a lot of things tacked onto the new Bill of Human Rights (but not codified by the UN) that are not human rights but civil rights. Civil rights are rights of citizenship to a certain nation that is shaped by their culture, society and politics. Human rights are inalienable rights one gains by being a part of the human race; they cross national, cultural, social and political boundaries (or should).

My focus is on human rights because, if you haven’t noticed, I am a “big picture” thinker. It is where I excel, it is where my emotions are most fired up and my motivation comes into play. I am dedicated to striving to work for the acceptance and protection of human rights globally as a basis for civil rights that are then nationally defined. As long as the civil rights structure of the country does not violate innate human rights the struggle to change the civil rights structure in that country is very country specific. There are civil rights (or lack there of) that I strongly do not think are a human right in the manner that they are addressed. When it gets into that area, it gets all muddled up in vocabulary and meaning. Identifying what is a human right and defining it is a tricky business.

I am thinking of the whole marriage rights thing. Worded one way it is a violation of the human right of the freedom of belief, worded another way it can be a blanket acceptance of some sexual behaviors that are supported by no country although, permutations are supported by some. I have yet to see, on a human rights scale, an adequate conversation about the definition of the right to form relationships free of discrimination or persecution. That becomes very tricky because a lot of our understanding of relationships comes from our cultural bias. I think, in that arena, like the arena of defining the right for the freedom of belief (religion in some circles) has to recognize civil differences by some how encoding the right to asylum and choice of citizenship – but then again, we are right back into the civil area again. Human rights efforts struggle with asylum and citizenship but have encoded that all persons have a right to citizenship (no man without a country).

It is a complicated and layered process, trying to formulate structures for rights and to pursue their protection and allowance. But I think that both the Civil and Human sides must talk more about where each interacts in the definition in order for more gains in both to be made. Both can set themselves back and create their own roadblocks by not understanding the nuances of culture and nationalism.

Ehhhh…I must be waking up, late night last night (but fun, it involved a pen) and I am just getting going.

c.2011. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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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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