Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cassandra's Curse

But the fate of warnings in political affairs is to be futile when the recipient wishes to believe otherwise. In formulating Cassandra's curse - that she would tell the truth and not be believed - the ancient Greeks showed their remarkable early insight into the human psyche.
Barbara W. Tuchman, The March of Folly, (New York: Random House, 1984), 199.
Greek mythology has always fascinated me. Greek culture seemed to have such as a solid grasp upon humanity and the struggles that came with being human. In a remarkable story, we see the character of Cassandra being able to accurately predict the future. Unfortunately, she is cursed by Apollo in that her gift brings only misery as no one will believe her. Therefore, events like the Trojan Horse came to be because her prediction of Troy's downfall by the horse fell on deaf ears.

How ironic today that we see many leaders stumble in the same was as they did at Troy. Dissent and alternate pathways are shown - and yet rejected simply out of disbelief. Many modern day Cassandras face the same dilemma in that their insight and advice is rejected to the downfall of the hearer. What mistakes could we avoid if we simply listened? What pitfalls might we avoid if we heard the dissent we do not want to hear? Alongside each of those questions is the problem of our desire to "believe otherwise." How many of us are actually willing to listen to opinions and ideas that fly in the face of our own or even what we believe to be normalcy?

It was tragic that Cassandra met her demise without being able to benefit anyone with her prophetic ability. The challenge today is not let the Cassandras in our own lives fail to challenge us to listen and change the direction we are headed.