By: Belfazaar Ashantison
OK you new cats and old dogs within the GVC (Greater Vampire Community… Yes. I am officially done with separation of online and offline communities), I thought I would take the time to write about a couple of topics today that are close to the breaking point, as far as the nerves of some of the older members of the community goes.
Did you ever stop to wonder the “why” of a situation instead of reacting to the “who” of the situation? Most newcomers to the Greater Vampire Community, whether online or off, forget that the community has been around, solidly, for more than a few decades. I, myself, have been a full member of the community since the age of 13 back in 1978. It seems, as things tend to be VERY cyclic in the GVC, that no matter how much times has passed, ideas continue to respawn within the community in ways that are, at best, mildly entertaining. At their worst, they are frustrating beyond the level of human comprehension… At least it seems that way to those of us who have been in the community for more than just a few years.
As Mark Twain said, “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
This means, quite simply put, that those of us who have been in the community for more than a decade (hell, sometimes for only five years, depending on what movies, books or remakes of fictional vampires hits the time), we’ve probably seen, tried, done, failed at, and/or bickered over a specific proposal 5 or 6 times (at least). So the general attitude of anyone who has been a while in the community is “Been there. Done that. Ad nauseum.” Why do we have this attitude? Because you’re not doing anything, saying anything, writing anything that we haven’t already done, heard or seen. No matter what pretty package you wrap it up in, it’s the same.
“Why isn’t there UNITY in the Community??”
Take, for example, the call for “Unity in the Community”. As of last year, by my count, there have been 27 major attempts to unify the community under this banner or that banner, for this reason or for that reason. Three alone IN 2015. Each of these attempts have been produced by a person who has either a) not been received as the “ultimate savior of the GVC” so they decided to start their own thing and place themselves at the top of the pyramid scheme they’ve cooked up or b) a person who was so butthurt by other members of the community for not seeing their “obvious value to the community”, so they started THEIR own thing assuming leadership as a reward for their many many seconds of work within the community as a whole, or c) by that person who once worked within the community and left for whatever reasons but on their return they felt they deserved to be automatically recognized for their past deeds instead of anything current, so instead of working through established organizations and rebuilding connections, they create their own endeavor and, per usual, place themselves at the top of the heap.
Don’t believe me, take a look at the myriad of Councils created around the Country (US, folks). A posh selection of the who’s who of the community wedged into this group or that, many of us in a myriad of groups seeing the same “topic of interest” hit each group at roughly the same time with a lot of hashing and rehashing the same things out by the myriad of members within each of the groups. To what end? NOTHING GETS DONE ABOUT THEM.
None of these “unity” attempts have ever taken into account that what flies in one area of the Country (the US) doesn’t fly in another, let alone doesn’t even get off the ground in the REST OF THE WORLD. As in, what works in the NYC area doesn’t fly in the New Orleans area. What works in Los Angeles does not fly in Tampa. What works in Las Vegas does not fly in Austin. This is NEVER taken into consideration.
BEYOND all of this, these self same groups ALWAYS trend towards making their “laws” universal. MEANING, it doesn’t matter if you are part of their group/community/organization, their rules and findings STILL apply to you. Sorry to tell you, folks, I don’t fly that way. If I am not part of your organization, don’t expect your rules and findings to even amount to a hill of gnat farts in my world, because they will surely be just as applicable to me. And, just to put this out here, I’m NOT the only longtime community member who feels this way.
In honesty, we can’t focus on such things as “unity” because we haven’t even begun to take the necessary steps to define such things as “vampirism”… the very essence of what makes a vampire a vampire… to the degree where we can accurately acknowledge and address those of us who truly do identify as vampire. Nor have we bothered to consider things such as WHY don’t things flow from area to area? What caused the breakdown from one portion of the community to the next? Is it a regional thing? Is it a seasonal thing? Or were the people who created the original system simply not concerned with other areas of the world (let alone Country) so they only concerned themselves with what was going on in their own neck of the woods (if you’ll pardon the pun)?
Elders vs Leaders:
Another heated topic that seems to make the cycle every few months or so is the whole thing about “the Elders should be responsible for…”… … … Really? REALLY? I’m not responsible for anyone but me, my home and my vampiric House. I’m an Elder in the community through my work WITH the community, which SERIOUSLY began at age 25 even though I had been in the community much earlier. It used to be that a person had to be active within the community for a total of 10 years before anyone considered them an Elder (and remember, I’ve been active in the community since I was 13). Back then, when I first reached Elder status, it merely meant “glorified servant of the community who had a bit of wisdom they could spread… given the right circumstances.” Somewhere, after a few Elders, such as myself, either created their own Houses or became the leaders of Houses, that definition seemed to twist to mean “leader of the community”… IT DOESN’T… It didn’t then. It doesn’t now. We took the term “Elder” from other communities because it was something we felt fit those who ACTIVELY endorsed the community and helped it to grow. It was never meant to be synonymous with “Leader”. Elders were the wise men and women of other communities that offered their experiences and wisdom when approached properly.
And I DO mean “when approached properly”…
Enter the question of LEADERSHIP… A “Leader” is someone who, simply, for right or wrong, leads a group/action. They are in charge of that group/action and are the final say so in what that group/action will do, won’t do, puts up with, won’t put up with, has, doesn’t have, keeps, and tosses away… just to name a few things… They aren’t automatically “Elders” and can be called a myriad of titles. More often than not, those titles are respected by other members of the community, however, there are those in the community who will poo poo ANYTHING they aren’t, actively, part of, no matter HOW much good that group/action does.
There have EVEN been articles written on holding “Elders” accountable, which in reality should be “Leaders”. Got news for you, MOST of the Elders I associate with ARE held accountable by their own groups for what THOSE GROUPS consider them to be responsible for. If those Elders happen to be Leaders, as well, they fall into a whole separate column of accountability that no other member of the community, save those that fall under them, are in a position to do anything about. HOWEVER, these particular articles demand that ALL Elders be held accountable for EVERY OTHER Elder. *BUZZ!!* Wrong. Think again. As with my earlier statement, your judgment of me, what I do, who I represent and what I should be held accountable for amount to a hill of gnat farts in a whirlwind as far as I’m concerned. Sorry folks, however, the way I see it… If Elder A screws the pooch, Elders B, C, and D are NOT responsible for cleaning up A’s mess and no amount of forcing the issue will change my mind on this.
Any group out there is ONLY as good as their Leader, yet, the converse of that is true as well… Any Leader out there is ONLY as good as the group they are leading. If the group is a roguish mob, the Leader will tend to act that way, as well. If the group is one of quiet contemplation, self examination, and self empowerment, again, the Leader will tend to act that way, as well. If the group is a Hell hole of impish behaviors, disrespectful attitudes, and “It’s my way or the highway” types… Well. I think, if you’re actually reading this, you get the picture.
A Leader is only as good as the quality of individuals within the group/action they are leading. Period. Yes. Some Leaders don’t fit a group/action, this is quickly established during the initial period of a Leader’s embarking in leadership of that particular group/action, however, it is usually also quickly resolved with “new” leadership being thrust into the position as quickly as the former Leader is flung FROM that position.
While I am on the topic of Leaders being flung from a position of leadership from a group/action… Parting ways with a group/action… Why the hell do we have to make it such a difficulty? Why the games and intrigues? Can’t we just simply choose to part ways without one side or the other attempting to slander the reputation of the other? Can it not just be, “well, I’m sorry you feel that way, I wish you well on your way…” and be done with it? Where does it say or where is it written that we have to act like a bunch of friggin five year olds who lost their toys or lost a game? Really. REALLY. Sometimes people just need to friggin grow the fuck up and move on. If you didn’t like THAT particular group/action, find one that works well with your own personal ideas of what a group/action should be and LEAVE IT AT THAT.
Back to Leaders and Leadership. Faulting every Elder or Leader for the actions of one or two just doesn’t do a damned thing. No matter how you slice it, each person is responsible for themselves and SHOULD be held accountable for THEIR actions. I don’t like getting blamed or treated poorly/disrespectfully for someone else’ bad actions. Therefore I DON’T DO IT TO OTHERS. If YOU, yourself, did something to me, I am game for a LITTLE attitude (Lord only knows I WILL sling some), however… AFTER the initial shock of “that bitch just fucked up,” I tend to go back to being my docile self, thinking before I speak/write anything so as not to provoke a series of “As the Fledgling Flaps” drama that tends to spread throughout the community like wildfire through dense, dry brush.
The “Blame Game”…
I don’t know about the rest of you, however, I get sick to FUCKING DEATH with the bloody blame game that seems to be the domain of certain individuals within the community. It is never, “I’m sorry. I fucked up.” It is ALWAYS, well, you see the newbie/fake vampire that is in my group’s/action’s fault. Or. The “community” is fucked up because of all the “fake newbies/vampires”…
No. The GVC was fucked up LONG before these particular new people, whether vampire, seeker or wannabe, came into being. Laying the blame on them instead of facing the REAL problems within the community shows that you haven’t clue fucking one what is really going on within the community and you are only a drama llama attempting to pull the focus off your own fucked up version of what’s been going on to this point in the history of the community. Indeed, the problem is MUCH deeper and are truly more encompassing than simply, and lamely, laying the blame on “fake newbies”. We have got Elders who’ve abused their power for YEARS. We’ve got people who aren’t made to feel special enough starting their own shit instead of working with established organizations, all for the need to feel like they, themselves, are a power and totally go out of their way to fuck with whatever group/action they either left or got booted from.
There’s a SERIOUS lack of direction within the GVC, itself, that causes new members to become jaded quickly as they see what some of the older members act like. There’s a lack of clarity as to what makes a vampire a vampire, let alone a simple fucking universally accepted working definition of what “vampirism” even is. We have a SERIOUS lack of smacking the disruptive influences down so that serious conversations/discussions/heated debates COULD finally lead somewhere other than the stupid lack of movement we currently have. We have a plethora of members, newer and older, cyber-bullying people who don’t automatically bend over and kiss their ass accepting every word that falls from their lips or crawls across their screen as the “Gospel Truth according to Jon Q Vampire”. We’ve got people who ACTIVELY try to promote the idea that vampirism is merely a religious/spiritual condition afflicting the soul and anyone who disagrees with their idea is just trying to mislead others… ON TOP OF all of this the people who are preaching “if I can get off blood, you can” bullshit actively ignoring the fact that basic human development has proven that not everyone can do the same things… If they could, I’d be damn sure painting like Rembrandt or Renoir by now… We have a plethora of idiots perpetuating fake wars between vampires and therians (more to the point vampires and werewolves a la Underworld movies) that PURPOSELY try to disrupt groups where both vampires and therians participate. We have an ever present perpetuation of hostilities between sangs/psys that started YEARS ago and seems to be on a particularly nasty cycle as it rears its ugly head from time to time. The original line sparking the hostilities back in the days of the Vampire Church was “sangs are nothing but psys on training wheels”.
We have a contingent of “Olde Guard”, as well as a few newer members of the community, continually belittling the Donors of the community. We have a contingent of older members of the community who hold no civility whatsoever as they belittle any new people asking questions to try and get a better understanding of who and what they are. Which is NEVER easy in a world like this. We have a whole plethora of people pretending they are the direct lineage of Vlad/Lestat/Elizabeth/Dracula/name a fictional vampire and everyone should bow down and grant them automatic title/status in whatever group/action they deem themselves worthy enough to participate in… And then there is the ever present “Kiss My Ring” crowd which many of our local communities splintered from because we were tired of being treated lower than a snakes belly if we didn’t dress/talk/appear/smell like them or hang with anyone they considered to be of any import…
These are REAL issues that NEED to be addressed within the GVC, as a whole, that are, more often than not, simply swept under the rug and tolerated.
So… Do you FINALLY see why some people within the community might have an attitude when you bring up for the umpteenth time, ‘we should do this endeavor to better the community because it’s a brilliant idea that I just suddenly come up with’…
Suck it up, Buttercups. It isn’t going to change until we take steps to tackle the REAL issues within the community.
“Once More Into the Breech”
Some of the older members of the community will NEVER understand that, for whatever reason, that the nature of the community is cyclic and that these cycles will always bring the same questions… Over and over and over ad nauseum. The reason these questions are cyclic, and no matter the wording, are ALWAYS THE SAME is that these new people in the community have never had anyone to ask these questions of. They shouldn’t be treated like they are idiots asking an already answered question with statements like, “if you just simply look through the prior topics, you’ll see that your question has been answered before more than a few times.” Or “this shit again?” Or anything like it. The question(s) should be answered to the best of our abilities, whether we’re tired of the question(s) or not. For no other reason than the fact that WE were there once. Some of us, such as myself, were lucky enough to have Elders that helped them along the way… Others have not been so lucky. The plan is simple. Take the questions with a grain of salt, pound of sugar, and, when need be, a good stiff drink.
It really is that simple. Answer the questions. If you don’t feel like it… LET SOMEONE ELSE DO IT. Just don’t bitch when one of them turns out to be one of those “fakes” you’re so ready to blame for all the other problems within the community.
Well. That’s all from me for now. Hope this article will help someone out there.
Ashe and be blessed,
Founder and Elder, House of Mystic Echoes
Founding member of the New Orleans Vampire Association (NOVA)