New York, Feb. 10, 2020 | View as Webpage | Order RESPECT 2020-2021 | Individual Signs
We Care: Reader Emails

In the February monthly horoscope edition, I explored how the breakdown of U.S. democracy and rule of law that we are seeing today (epitomized in the impeachment trial of Pres. Trump) did not emerge from a vacuum. We are experiencing decades of abuses, and the gutting of basic American foundational traditions. The U.S. Pluto return is about taking responsibility or paying the price for not doing so. I asked who actually cares; what follows are the reader replies we've received so far. -- efc

Dear Planet Waves,

To my understanding, the only way forward is about personal responsibility, as Eric is constantly indicating -- to oneself, but as part of the greater whole, just like the unquestioning, unfailing contribution of all the parts of a cohesive, therefore healthy body.

It is important to realise that thinking, and the multitude of conflicting images it creates, is not the way. Thinking distorts and fragments our understanding. Thinking and the separate images it produces is the direct means to the utter chaos we are now suffering across the world.

The only means to contribute to a new world of integrity is conscious connection with the/our inner, spiritual source -- of stillness. When stillness pervades there is an increasing connection with, and awareness of, the integrated wholeness of life, a totally new perspective of ourselves and the whole of which we are an intimate part.

The fearful, little ego activity is no more. There is humility, there is wisdom, there is involvement with the bigger picture -- wholeness -- returning home.

This requires commitment to daily relaxation and meditation, letting go of everything -- no poses, no effort, no dogma, just total relaxation -- into the stillness. Then, you are an active, vital contributor in the current transformational process -- beyond limitation.

It's about daring to be present, in the stillness, with the awareness of 'what is' -- actuality replacing the fanciful, that we believe is reality -- when it's not!!

See my comprehensive survey.

-- Michael Brookman

Hi Eric and Friends,

Thank you for going to Ukraine. I look forward to hearing more about it from you.

I care, and my eyes tear. We appear to be in an historical pre-(official) fascism period. Reading about Hitler and Mussolini's takeovers, there was a moment where the forces in power *could* have stopped them, but they were afraid it might trigger violence because both autocrats had built up personal military cadres -- what heinous irony.

On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder, and Shadow Network by Anne Nelson, on the history of the rise of the radical right in America, are fact-based resources for anyone who wants to see very long tail underpinnings of what we are seeing today.

I've often wondered what I would have done in WW2...would I have had the courage and foresight to do everything in my power to prevent it? As a journalist I have struggled with that question every day for the last couple decades.

Thank you for asking.

-- Lark Corbeil

Hi Eric,

I spent a few minutes reading these letters this morning. I think for many of us it's not a question of caring...we care deeply...most of us who hang out here at PW do so for diverse and various reasons, some personal, but we also gravitate here because our concerns transcend personal issues, or, rather, see the implicit relationship between personal and universal. As you've observed so many times, we are at a nexus where integration is paramount, and nowhere is integration more necessary than in our need to bring those two worlds into alignment, to help make sense or clarify somehow.

It's really easy to get swept away by the rollercoasters that are our lives, but I find that the more I can step out of my own personal dramas, the easier it is to see the bigger picture.

I work really hard at not allowing the confusion that abounds to manifest through the vehicle of hate, although I also struggle with that pseudo-religious phenomenon of hating the sin, not the sinner, which I find to be disingenuous, but sometimes the only way I muddle through.

So I try to find a place where hate has no quarter, while maintaining a stance of involvement, care and love in the face of such despicable events that seem to roll out more quickly as each day passes.

I get that in this electronic age, everything has become compressed, that the news stream can become overwhelming. There are days when I just have to take a break from the news to reestablish my balance.

I can't help but recall the "time as a mountain range" metaphor that Vonnegut expounds in several of his tales. Sometimes viewing life and reality through that prism helps slow down that onslaught or barrage that we seem to have to confront daily.

It's eerie, however, the negative impact that DJT's voice seems to have on me. I could not watch the inauguration or any of the SOTU speeches live without feeling physically ill. So regardless of how hard we try to create an atmosphere of grace, it's hard to escape the umbra of fear and loathing this president has left in his wake. Love you for all you do!

-- Robbi Cohn

Yeah, I do care, but I don't know where to start.

The Dixie Chicks exemplify my feelings: "I'm not ready to make nice. I'm not ready to back down. 'Cause I'm mad as hell."

-- Pissed Pisces

Dear Eric,

I care, too, for all the reasons mentioned in your readers' letters. I want us to be better and kinder. I want us to find ways to come back together again. Yet I'm deeply afraid that something has altered the minds and spirits of some of us to such a huge extent that it's an almost impossible task. We are soul sick.

We need to seek and recognize the truth and then act on it. We need to put down our smartphones and dialogue with each other. How hard is that? What's stopping us? What are we afraid of? How can we change it? Once we answer these questions, maybe our country will begin to heal.

-- Marcia G Blair

Hi Eric,

I care, and I'm not sure what I can do besides vote, feel deeply and keep paying attention.

If you have more practical suggestions, I'm all ears. And thanks for your writing and offering. You help me make sense of the madness, and you are a light.

-- Cathy McCauley

Hands of Old Homesteader, Iowa, 1936, from the 1955 Family of Man exhibit. Photo by Russell Lee / Farm Security Administration.
I of course do care. And of course am really confused how to behave to any effect consistent with wanting to matter in the balance of right now.

Really appreciate being able to have some feel of how you feel over there in Ukraine, by dint of what you pass on about that, and by dint of all the angles you provide as supplemental guideposts along the way. Also appreciate your resolve to go there personally in the first place.

And, I really want to know the Ukrainian pronunciation of "zhzh"!

-- Catherine Goldfarb

Hi Eric,

A brilliantly written essay, congratulations! I've been a subscriber since you worked with the English astrologer, lo these many years ago. Your essays have been a welcome beacon in this dark night of the American soul. This essay should be required reading for high school and college students (spoken like the teacher I am).

Ever since Pluto has been in Capricorn, we have seen the crumbling of American values, especially the balance of powers so needed to restrain tyranny.

Now, as you so clearly point out, the U.S. Pluto return is upon us; and the stark realization of how far we have deviated from the vision of the founders should be (let's hope) a strident wake up call!

The election of a dictator-wannabe, aided by our Russian adversaries, supported by the hypnotized masses and evangelicals who would do anything to control women's wombs, is surely our national Rubicon. Wake up or pay a very high price!

I don't know what the planets will look like on Election Day; hopefully you have some insight about that! But we must expunge this stain on our democracy and restore the health of our system with our new knowledge of how badly we have let our safeguards disappear.

My natal Pluto is at 27 Cancer, so I'm feeling some of the opposition energies now: for me, rebirth in many areas of my life. May our nation be reborn to new understanding of how we must safeguard its foundations and how to reclaim and protect true democracy.

Thank you for your vigilance and vision!

-- Ayesha Ashley

Angel Baby, c. 1950, from The Family of Man exhibit. Photo by Edward Wallowitch / Estate of Edward Wallowitch.
Thank you for this very enlightening and scary newsletter. What to do though?

-- Liz Conner

Hi Eric,

I'm sitting here listening to the sounds on TV of reason and fairness being sucked out of our government, and reading your report from Ukraine. Your striking photo of Zaporizhzhia could be a grainy relic of some bleak age, which I guess is what it is. "A worn and tired land"; I can feel it in my blood too as an ancient witness of history.

I'm reading about the "Age of Enlightenment" and the philosophers who debated the ignorance and fallibility of the human character. Would knowledge not religion lift us up? Could we rise above our natural state employing reason, ethics and morality? Or is it already in our nature to be good?

I think we need to use reason and our minds! I heard a bit of campaign news that a man on the street said we need a candidate who we are passionate about. I'm not so sure. We need to go back to basics and to rediscover history. It's a remarkable story.

Please don't ever stop reporting from out there. You are loved and appreciated.

-- Donna Baier

Dear Eric and Staff,

Wonderful reporting on this critical time! Living in Kingston, I felt surrounded by like-minded souls. Florida is maddening. Our state senator, Dick Scott, was under investigation for defrauding Medicare, pleaded the 5th over 50 times and paid the largest fine in history. People still voted him in.

Boy Playing Marbles, Java, 1938, from the 1955 Family of Man exhibit, which toured internationally; photo by Gotthard Schuh.
When he was governor he mandated that no one in his administration could use the term climate change. Now he is running political ads attacking Biden like he did his opponent when running for office. The wealthy can afford to bombard the airwaves with dirty, lying ads. Now he is on the front page of our local paper because, yeah, he too knew Lev Parnas. (Lying Pam Bondi was our AG, twice.)

There are villages with large Trump flags in every yard. Our other Senator, Rubio, is a coward. We have no voice.

We feel very overwhelmed living in a total Republican state. Still, I write and call their offices every time there is an issue to protest. Our town elected one of the few Democratic representatives and we hold rallies in front of his office. (Trump supporters on the other side of the street. For anyone who believes Trump supporters are just people like us with different views: wrong. They spew hatred and anger that would frighten the crap out of anyone who was never exposed to this kind of violence.)

The point of all this is that you are so right, in my experience: we, the American people, do seem to be OK with lying and cheating. We continually reward these dirty politicians with additional terms. For those who don't accept this, it feels like being part of a small revolutionary army.

Silence won't help in times like this. We need people speaking truth to power, to keep hounding our elected officials even if they aren't listening. We are hopeful that enough people are paying attention, which is the true reason for impeachment, so more and more step into the caring zone. I always say that it will get better when old white dinosaurs become extinct. Well, white people are destined to become the minority in a very few years. So there is that.

Thank you for all you do.

-- Mark Diorio

Dear Eric,

Our little story here gets more harrowing but we hope for improvement and when that happens? Planet Waves is first in line.

And yes, I care. I care a lot. Even though we live in a white supremacist redoubt now, I write letters, make calls, write about all of this and try to express myself clearly and calmly when called for. (Even if the best I could do when some large white man poked my arm in the post office and said, "The only Allah I like is ala carte! Haha!," was to reply: "But the spelling, sir, is different and thus so is the meaning. I can't afford a la carte, can you?")

Listening to the Scriptures, exhibited in the 1958 FIAP Biennial, contemporaneous with The Family of Man. Photo by Shreedam Bhatt.
I will say that people up here seem to be getting more compassionate for each other, and along with the idiots in MAGA hats one hears a LOT more of WTF is this idiot doing? There may be hope.

There are, after all, FARMERS here and they are beginning to develop cohesion and sensibility to the times, which is encouraging. Even when the elected State Rep. says things like we have to stop wasting water by sending it to the ocean.

At the same time, I have a friend who is very...spiritual...and a good healer. Yet this person thinks current events are inevitable and the course things are "meant" to take and it is challenging to talk to someone who thinks "earthly," if we may call them that, concerns are inappropriate. One shouldn't militate against the corruption on a bigger scale. And I find myself bursting into tears about elephants and whales and the descent into madness we are witnessing. This is almost more frustrating than the expectable reactivity.

I wonder what the best way to bring people into awareness really is. Your writings and the work of Planet Waves does a LOT, and even if at times we are preaching to the choir, that choir also needs inspiration. So, thank you! I do believe the actions will reveal themselves if we can pay attention. Until then, in gratitude for you and love to you, carry on!

-- Kelley Rico


Thank you for your words and thoughts. They are appreciated I assure you. But the dilemma here as I see it is that the power needed to change for the good is in the hands of the (very) bad.

HOW does that change?

We have tried revolution, education, politics, religion, economics, etc. --nothing worked! And we are in the hands of a dire fate it seems. Frankly we need a miracle and I don't see ANY evidence of that happening.

I'm an artist. I'm 70. I've had a successful life in a way the kids could not these days and am astonished by that. But I have no answers for my younger friends who have to move forward in this absurd world. This concerns me. I want to help them in some way as you do but it's exhausting and relentless.

I grew up in a time when the future had a future. Now I see our once-bright future sliding into the past. It is sad.

Untitled (Dutch Couple), c. 1947, from Family of Man. Photo by Emmy Andriesse.
Again, thank you for your work.

-- Paul Fortune

For reals.

-- Miah Artola

I work on this constantly, too, Eric. Thanks for your work, writing, and heart. Safe travels.

-- Stevo

Yep, I care. Thanks, Eric and team. All my relations!

-- Diane Osgood

Hello Eric!

Another great piece. I care and am curious about what you consider the attributes of a mature adult. This has been coming up as a theme in my world this past week.

Apparently Feldenkrais had said something along the lines of: the definition of a mature human being is someone who has re-appropriated inner authority, and that the point of these movement lessons (Feldenkrais method) is to help you remove outer authority from your inner life.

Taking the above notion into your article I'm thinking of how this would relate to your views that we Americans are hypnotized and immobilized by external displays of authority (cops, military, authoritarian-style parenting, etc.) that also confuse the inner programming of authority. In other words, there is a sovereignty we all have by our very existence but all the cultural messaging separates us from this, and we are rendered unskillful and somewhat dependent on external rules, laws, etc.

Isn't this not just Americans, but what happens when a society is too big and has to make broad sweeping laws that make very little wiggle room for nuance (i.e. abortion is either legal or illegal)?

This is only a partially thought-out rendering on my end.

-- Dina Crosta

Excellent article! I do care. Deeply. To the point of despair most days. I'm always looking for an explanation for the insanity. If I can understand this, even a little, I feel some hope and see where I might make a difference. Thanks for your insight. (Loved seeing Ukraine through your eyes, too.)

-- Julie Vaterlaus

Inuit Mother Caresses Her Child in Igloo, Padleimut Tribe, Northwest Territories, 1950; from Family of Man. Photo by Richard Harrington.
The president, whomever she or he is, is not the state as has been recently claimed. If the state is not the people, what in the hell good is the state? But if the people do not claim and defend it, their loss is also mine. I vote. I call Congress. But as the song says, no one is listening.

Perhaps it's because I live in Texas and I've lived through happier times. Thank you for the photos from Ukraine.

-- Kathryn Pruitt-Bruun

And that's the whole bloody problem. I care.

Easier to say I don't and binge watch myself into stupor. But when Maddow at 9 pm sounded like as much rhetoric as the Fox News clowns at 6 pm, and a work trip took me to the mountains of Bavaria, cutting the cord with MSM helped me find my own values.

As a double Cap with much in Sadge, Pluto seems like an intimate friend at this point.

The lesson: at the end of the day, it matters not what society does, says or is. What matters is what "I" live by: finding that "I," finding the values that personally matter -- kindness, compassion, empathy, time, friendship, joy, little things, warm soup, kids, animals and a long walk to watch the sunset. That is priceless. (Like the song in The Sound of Music; it really is that simple.)

If each one can find their own happiness outside of the social "ideals" -- money, spouse, name, fame, whatever-the-game -- people would be not be so afraid, IMHO.

But then what do I know. Every time I think I do, Saturn- Pluto slaps me upside the back of my head and off I go again.

Thank you for your words and everything you do.

-- Sonal Shanker

Thank you, Eric, for your insightful summary of our present, somewhat dire, situation. Astrology aside (although it really can't be), our national stupor has allowed the decay of democracy to the point where it is unrecognizable.

Dance Hall, New York, c. 1953, from the 1955 Family of Man exhibit. Photo by Ed Feingersh.
-- Eileen Sikora

Heya Eric,

Hope you are having a safe and wonderful time! Great photos!

I fuckin care!

Loving this new decade and all astrological events; we play well together. I've initiated my own sort of "sculptural peace project" and have met with government agencies about it twice. A third time is coming up.

Because I care, I've imagined and initiated this project and I've gotten many people on board so far. Many more will need to join in the fun -- and I believe they will. This is a peaceful, creative, public service sculpture and design project that I believe will facilitate wellness for the people, on both a local (Hudson Valley) and international level.

-- Amy Lewis Sweetman


I really care. The lack of integrity and the absurdity that is transpiring at this time makes me feel exhausted.

My prayer is that the world starts caring more for its beautiful people. There is so much good that is missed and there is a lot of bad that exists. But that is the battle: good vs. evil. I try every day to focus on being and doing good. It's been a really hard time, but this too shall pass.

Thank you for all the wisdom and love you add to this age-old battle. Many blessings, Eric.

Inuit Prayer: "I think over again my small adventures. My fears, those small ones that seemed so big. For all the vital things I've needed to get and to reach and yet still there is only one great thing, the only thing. To live to see the great day that dawns and the light that fills the world."

-- Kristen Gregorio

Hi Eric and team,

Just wanted to add my voice to the numbers of emails I know you're receiving to say I care. I appreciate your spontaneous trip to Ukraine to report from there and bring readers closer to reality outside the U.S. bubble. Good for you. And for introducing us to Anatoly, too.

Untitled, c. 1943, from the Family of Man exhibit. Photo by Jakob Tuggener.
I also appreciate your use of the word courage so much lately. It takes courage to show up whole and authentic in today's world. And to speak up and not be apathetic or cynical. It encourages me to know Planet Waves reaches and inspires so many others to personal courage.

Great journalism and inspiration. Thank you.

-- Shelly Francis

What do you think of Elizabeth Warren?

-- Tracy Galasso

Good morning Eric,

I want to say thank you for your work and insights. As a black gender non-conforming human I care a lot!

I care for myself, my children, my grand and my partners. I care for my friends who are more like family, and my clients.

I want to not live in fear for my community and live out my calling. When you have to worry about bills and such its hard to want to stay fighting. On most days when I can I fight. But there is the sense of "ugh" and "why" that I battle with because too many people are stuck enjoying the illusion and their sense of comfort, that those of us that are fighting back are trying to fight a heavy battle. White supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism have run rampant so long that it's going to take a mass collapse and rebuild.

I care and use my voice and energy to every day. I just hold out faith that others will join on now and stop waiting.

-- Melinda G.

Hi Eric and Planet Waves,

I care. And I don't know what to do. Working in my town to improve the environment -- light and noise pollution not just affecting humans but native wildlife -- maybe I can make some difference. It's not in the budget though, so it might be a dead end.

I appreciate your journalism and I appreciate the larger context of the astrological climate. In my town we are having an eruption against corruption in the police and courts after the tragic death of a child who was physically abused by his father, an NYPD cop.

I also hope more will be exposed at the national level, in the mass consciousness, and that real change can take place. Thanks for holding the light.

-- Susan Hatzel

Music, exhibited in the 1962 FIAP Biennial. Photo by Vidyavrata.
On the memorial to "those lost at sea," on the waterfront in Gloucester, Massachusetts, there are 16 Burnham names, the oldest dated 1624. I was born a Burnham. My Burnham family were sailors, sea captains and then ministers of the Congregational persuasion and musicians.

On my matriarchal side there are doctors and educators, many of whom (my maternal grandmother for one) was raised in a sod hut in Nebraska in the late 1800s. Tancy, as we called her, lived to be 98 and watched the men walk on the Moon. She was mentally sharp and thrilled!

This is my family legacy.

I deeply care. My legacy is built on caring for your fellow man here and worldwide, with education the key for all to unlock the door to their future whatever it may be.

Some reasons:
*The fact that too many are sadly ignorant of the heritage this nation offers all who come to find a better way of life is disparaging.
*That our amazing country is being wasted, used and discarded for personal political and monetary gain.
*That people prefer to drink the Kool-Aid at the wild abandonment fiestas is depressing.
*That faith and hope are scrapped because of fear of reprisal.
*That Americans let their guard down and neglect to protect their own human rights.
*The "I'm on board boys, pull up the rope" attitude that abounds today.

Yes, Eric...I care, and I'm also disappointed by those who do not care at all. And who are irritated by "all the noise about it"!

I am thankful for your insight and counsel; helps to keep me somewhat balanced.

-- Barbara Burnham Peaslee

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