Friday, April 3, 2015

Cassandra Goes to War

Cassandra Goes to War Call me Cassandra. I sometimes feel like her, walking the embattled streets of Troy issuing dire predictions to deaf ears. Father Priam frowns. Hector scowls. Paris laughs outright and Helen just shakes her head sadly: “Yes, but what can I do? I am only a woman like you, and the cause of all this.” Andromache, who will lose more than any human being should be able to bear, simply gathers Cassandra in her arms as if comforting a precocious but clueless child. It is a curse, the curse of Cassandra, to see and speak and know, yet have no one pay attention – worse, they continue the very course she sees as leading to disaster. And disaster always comes. It was her curse, passed on to me and millions like me. Cassandra was an auxiliary character, sad and fascinating in her own right. She was put into the Iliad to emphasize the inevitability of Fate when the Gods themselves are so fickle. I am even more auxiliary: I am a secondary character in my own novel. I do not begrudge the world its hubris but I continue to issue warnings only the converted heed. The ones I want to convince will not be persuaded, whether the issue is climate change, ending poverty, or preventing war. It does not fit the bottom line. The rest of us are the bottom line, or buried beneath it like Dead peasants and starving Armenians. Yet, even knowing that to be true, even knowing that all wars are waged for the profit and/or empowerment of a highly selective few, we fall for the spiel every time; even knowing that poverty kills a child every three seconds, we turn away from what we do not see; even knowing that the overall complexity of planetary climate can be influenced by human actions, we so quickly accept the opposite because it is convenient. And even though I know it will do no good, I scream against the darkness nonetheless.

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