Wednesday, July 21, 2004

5th Life of The Cat Woman

I am re-reading one of my favorite books, Fifth Life of the Cat Woman (sorry, anonymous, I wasn't able to find Blue Like Jazz) and am enjoying the fantasy of living in a desert mirage with 50 cats. [You'll have to read it to know what I am referring to...Read it!] And I am thinking about what it must be like to be fully cognizant of past lives. The book does explore the idea that if we could remember the past via having lived through it, and each time being born into a different class, skin color, culture, religion, political climate, etc., we would most likely behave quite differently in this lifetime. For example, we would be less classist or racist because we would not have that fear of "the other" as we would have been "the other" at some point in our past lives.

It is an interesting thought. After all, on a micro scale, most of us choose to donate to causes that personally affect us or our loved ones. This would be the macro extension of that tendency. All of us can be accused of remaining nonchalant about one issue or another simply because it hasn't affected us personally. Imagine if we had the inner wisdom of knowing what it is like to have lived through famines, wars, revolutions, natural disasters, religious inquisitions, etc. How would that resonate with us on a cellular level? How would we conduct ourselves now? Would we continue to exhibit so many ugly behaviors and prejudices?

There are many people of particular religious and spiritual paths who do believe in reincarnation. Still, without the knowledge of each previous life and the challenges we were faced with, we are left with little more than fear of repeating our current life path (for many, poverty and violence are their reality).

Television, video, film, and new technology provide a vehicle for a voyeuristic journey into the lives of other people. Historical dramas and documentaries explore the realities of various epochs. Countless hours are spent staring into a cinematic concept of what the future may hold. And yet, what are we learning from all this?

We live in an era where so much information is available to us; we cannot claim ignorance. We see what is going on in every nuance of the world, and yet, are we better people for this knowledge?

Do we have to experience the reality of what someone else is going through before we really "get it?" Or can we help to create a deep understanding that all pain and joy, regardless of the source, is still pain and joy.

I'd like to think that by creating educational, thought provoking art / film / literature that we will be able to teach future generations a reverence and an empathy for other people, the environment, and other species. I feel it is imperative to try. But I wonder what we are learning by voyeuristically peeking into the reality of "someone else," "the other." How do we make "the other" no longer distant strangers, but ourselves.

jane_crow, looking for answers to create positive change 


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