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My Word on “Being Cassandra”

September 28th, 2019 Comments off

In the Greek myth, Cassandra is granted the gift of foresight by Apollo, but when she resists his advances, Apollo adds a curse — although she sees the truth, no one will believe her.

Throughout this entire presidency, I can imagine there have been many — perhaps hundreds or thousands — who have felt like Cassandra from one day to the next. Thye tried to warn us about this man in the 80s and 90s. They tried to warn us before the election. They tried to warn us after the election and nearly daily since that time. Still, so many people did not believe it. 

“Cassandra and Ajax”, Greek Krater, 350-340 BC

Despite Cassandra’s warnings, they ignored each question, each failure, each exposure of wrong-doing, each hateful outburst, each attack on portions of the citizenry they were supposed to serve, until, finally, the curtain was dropped and we saw the machinations that hid behind it all.

Now, despite our disbelief, we must look back with clear hindsight and reevaluate how we failed to listen and how we victimized all those Cassandras who tried to warn us. We called them liars. We called them mad. We called them political hacks. We questioned their loyalty, their citizenship, and their very existence. We threatened them with jail, destruction of their reputations and, in some cases, barely veiled threats of death.

While it is impossible to make amends for how these people were treated, we can offer them some recompense by finally opening our minds and believing them. Even though they may have stated truths we did not want to hear, we must believe. We must see the truth that lies in front of us. We can deny it no longer.

The Me, Too movement has shown us how so many people have been assaulted, attacked and killed while those around them did nothing — because they did not, or could not, believe that these assaults happened. In each case, Me Too activists have shouted, “Believe Them!” It should be clear that this mantra needs to be applied to all such events. Start with belief, investigate and punish as necessary regardless of income, political power, race, creed or sexual orientation. Too often we tout the age-old exclamation “The Rule of Law”, but much too often the law is different for rich and poor, brown and beige, Christian and Muslim, male and female.

No one (should be) above the law, but often that is exactly the case. We see it in everyday dealings and the actions in the halls of national and international power. The Cassandras of our time speak out to warn us and just like their mythical namesake we refuse to believe. We must learn from the past — both mythical and historical — or we are doomed to repeat our mistakes or perhaps, simply doomed.