Tessa on Prejudice

Tessa on Prejudice

I’m the grey cat with yellow eyes, living in a house with two doggies and a human female. I am prejudiced against and left out of car rides, long walks and sleeping on the bed at night. Instead I can roam outside unfettered, come and go as I please, answer or not to my name and make no apologies for bringing home a baby rabbit I have just gutted and laid it at my mom’s feet.

I know I am different from Maya and Seamus, who are a whole other species, and due to this I am constantly harassed by Maya, the terrier. Because I look, smell, sound and act different I am a target of fear and misunderstanding.

Mom was listening to the news last night. Fighting in Ferguson, white cop shoots black youth, and  the drunk college students singing racist songs lashing out at those who look and sound different from themselves. We fear what we don’t understand and we don’t understand what does not look or sound like us. Then this happened.

MAYA
Mom, Tessa is blocking the stairs again and won’t let me pass. I hate cats! They should all be removed from the earth.

SEAMUS
MOM! Mom, Maya is acting prejudiced again. You said she shouldn’t do that.

MOM
Hey, hey, what’s this all about? Since when did cairn terriers deserve top dog in this world?

MAYA
Who needs cats, mom, when doggies are obviously far superior.

TESSA
Superior in what? Eating, barking and bossing everyone around? That doesn’t make you better than me, that just means you have a certain character and personality.

MOM
Listen, diversity is the power and beauty of life on this earth. The many breeds of dogs and cats, the wide variety of flowers and trees. Just imagine if our world only grew yellow daffodils and blond cairn terriers, how the senses would be overwhelmed by the sameness, not to mention how your terrier nature would find fault with other cairns and boy, watch out then. Every living thing brings their own unique characteristics and yes, personality to this life and, truth be known, we are each connected as one living organism.

MAYA
Ok, I get the “we are all one” stuff, but why can’t people see that? Why can’t I see that? Why is it such a big deal that someone’s skin color is black or white or yellow? That Tessa is grey and I am blond? Why does it bother me so much and how can I change if I don’t understand what is happening to me?

TESSA
I understand how complicated it is. And it all has to do with ignorance; to not knowing what is real and not real, true and not true. You don’t even know who you are and who you are not!

MAYA
Are you calling me ignorant now?

TESSA
We all believe what we have been taught to believe and then we hold to that belief in order to feel safe. Someone or thing that looks, smells, sounds and acts differently from you is perceived as a threat, and with that comes fear, which is then disguised with arrogance, which requires an attachment to being right that you are a better, more superior person than the one threatening you.

Whew, that was a lot for me to say in one go.

MOM
Pretty good attempt there, little feline.

MAYA
So, color or size, nationality, even language becomes a dividing line that separates humans from each other and nature, thereby causing fear and distrust?

MOM
Right! It is not some “devil” at work in the world, but a virulent flaw built into the human conscious. One that causes fluctuations in the way life is perceived and Ignorance is primero uno – for from it springs the whole litany of human suffering.

SEAMUS
Small children are able to see past the skin color or breed of an animal. They just love doggies, because we are, well, wonderful. Little girls drive me crazy trying to hug me because I’m so cute, rather than see me for the intelligent Shih Tzu male that I am.

MAYA
Rest assured that by cairn standards you are not cute, but an odd mixture of breeds that cannot compete with a pure blood like myself.

MOM
You’re crossing a line there, Miss superior cairn, warrior, bitch.

MAYA
Mom!

MOM
It is that deep flaw of the mind that must be recognized so you can hear what you are actually saying; the falsehoods you believe to be true. What I do and what millions of people practice is meditation. Learning to sit in stillness allows me to see the bigger picture; both the source and consequences of my actions.

SEAMUS
I meditate all the time. You think I am sleeping, but I am actually sitting quietly just being in the moment.

MOM
This flaw in our conscious is a part of each of us; and when I become overwhelmed with misunderstanding, or my mind won’t be still in meditation I say this prayer that helps me to reconnect to life in the moment. Here, I am going to teach it to you. It was written by a great saint named St Francis of Assisi. He was a man who loved all of Earth’s creatures, but he also understood the danger of human ignorance at work in the world.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not
Seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to
Eternal life. Amen

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