Elvis has left the room

It would appear that ‘Elvis’ has finally left the room. For the first time since public awareness of the being called ‘Elvis” it has fallen off the top 1,000 list of American Baby Names.

I had no idea it was even on the list.

I also did not know what the top ten causes of a stroke were (in descending order): Coffee 10.6%, Vigorous exercise 7.9%, Nose blowing 5.4%, Sex 4.3%, Straining to defecate 3.6%, Drinking cola 3.5%, Being startled 2.7% and Being angry 1.3%. (University Medical Center, Utrecht).

Now imagine, if you were a child named Elvis given to drinking Lattes after your spinning class and you are of a certain age when eating fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches makes you constipated and you can see where problems could begin.

This week has been an odd mixture of busy/not busy. I have had to go out and do things, meeting or gathering type things almost every day this week. So while I have had an easier time with the amount of work I am doing, there were other demands placed on my time that frankly, I find more exhausting.

And most of it stems from the fact that I had to interact with groups. Not the groups that I select because they reflect a part of my identity, but groups and group identities I may have to interact with because of what I do and the direction my life is taking.

If you have been reading my blog for a while you know I take a dim and cautious view of groups. The reason being that part of the nature of any group is that the survival of the group identity swiftly takes prominence over the validation of the individual identities that belong to the group. In other words, most groups are potentially cannibalistic, they would rather destroy their members to maintain their existence rather than go through a growth process.

The original purpose of the group becomes subservient to its survival. It is why there are so many problems and contradictions within organized religions/churches; why social service agencies  – rather then be an effective part of the process of healing a wounded part of society become something that continues the wounding to preserve a population that has need of them (ensuring their existence) and it is how political groups with all the right ideas can be such hotbeds of corruption and hypocrisy.

But there is another element of group identity that I was reminded of this week, and that is that groups draw like-minded and motivated people to them. This can be a good thing. Last night I was at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner for Hospice and this was a group of very interesting, funny and overwhelmingly empathic peoples. As a group we are both defined by what we do and it draws a certain kind of person to it. Like Street Sights, the staff and everyone involved is driven by a sense of compassion that can be absolutely stunning to see in action. Both groups have their problems because of the group identity/survival issues but there is an awareness of that and it rarely gets out of control.

The other type of group I brushed against this week is much different. It is a group of people who have come together under the guise of helping a vulnerable population but the common motivation that these people have is that they are all predators. I know, I ran every single one of them through a criminal database and what it revealed was a gathering of sociopaths for whom predation is the defining way of life. Yet now they have the guise of being socially responsible. It is both horrifying and fascinating to see and to unravel. It is not as common as one would think, this gathering of predators, but it does happen. You see it in the news when they break a child-porn ring, but this is far more reminiscent of what has gone on with child abuse and organized churches (and I do not single out the RCs here because it is prevalent in many religions). It is the toxic combination of a socially sanctioned group, a vulnerable population and a strong group identity. The survival of the group is far more important than the welfare of any of its members.

In most groups, especially those that work with vulnerable populations, you get a predator or two but they are outnumbered by those whose motivations are honest and true. But this particular group, it is stunning to see that it is a culture of predation cloaked in a great big smiley face of helping.

Now, the question is, what to do? The answer to that is not nearly as simple as it seems. And that…has me seeking advice from good places, going to the gym regularly and making sure I get to sleep at a reasonable hour.

Beautiful day today and I get the chance to drive, literally, all over the state of Rhode Island…with loud music. How could life get better?

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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