The sweet-tempered Sun in Taurus has arrived just in the nick of time, and I hope it brought some soothing energy with it. As mammals, even the most docile of us have fangs, and the most patient of us can be pushed to expose them. All that Aries energy had some of us sharp-edged as a spear point, me included. Aggression and impatience were the rule of thumb for a while, in danger of exploding, like the gent in Florida who punched a Sonic manager in the face for putting tomato on his hamburger.
I had the same itch watching Sunday pundit television last weekend. A blank-eyed Mitt Romney was unenthusiastically crowned the Republican presumptive while the topics that token lefty, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, attempted to introduce — gun law reform and the multi-faceted assault on democracy known as ALEC* — were quickly dismissed as too liberal, therefore too radical, to discuss at the establishment roundtable. The smugness of these “I-know-better-than-you” vignettes spin me up. Denied access to Cokie Roberts, if I could have found an offending tomato, I’d have slapped it into mush.
It’s not just politics, of course. It’s finances and weather and jobs, jobs, job. It’s relationships and expectations and prices of food and gas and health care. The kind of anger and frustration we’re seeing all around us is typical of people who feel their lives spinning out of control. In many instances, those feelings are justified. The system has failed us. We have finally noticed, and now, if we’re mindful, we may decide to take those next steps. What steps, you ask? We have to turn the clock back a bit to answer that — a few days, months, years — depending on our Soul Contract.
Get very quiet and you will remember that you woke up one morning, your fears too close to the surface, your dreamtime spent processing visions that seemed darker than usual. You might recall that the day seemed to fly by, your duties unending and your energy flagging, without being able to shake that feeling that something had gone horribly wrong. Those around you seemed just as overwhelmed as you were, no help in a discussion seeking solutions to a problem as yet undefined. The next day was the same, and the one after that. That’s when you went running to look it up in the Handbook for Humanity.
We’d pretty well completed that master work before we hit the millennium, setting out the ground rules and even writing chapters in how to get around them. Still, with many of us working at the top of the food chain, some of us were wondering if there wasn’t more to life than all we’d found. More than “stuff;” more than “more;” more than “me.” The organizing systems we counted on for centuries went south right after that, making all the rules moot and taking our experience of stability with it. And worse, when we went to consult the book, desperate to steady ourselves with the absolutes we’d come to depend upon, we found the last chapter missing. It’s the one we’re writing now — the prequel to the next testament of human evolution.
Civilization seems to have lost its way. We really thought we’d settled some of our thornier problems, but it appears we haven’t quite nailed them yet. Certainly we can no longer look to the financial system to treat us as anything other than a number, a mark, a potential cash cow. If you belong to a small, independent bank or credit union, you can rest a bit easier, but ultimately, the big money all ends up in the same place, which is not in the people’s pockets, I can assure you. Each new attempt at giving the homeowner or credit card holder protection is soon watered down by a congress wholly owned by lobbyists. Each independent voice that suggests a common sense solution is shouted down by ideologues who know which side their bread is buttered on and intend to chase it down with expensive champagne.
This week, for instance, the Senate submitted its own version of a 2013 budget plan, proposing $440 billion in cuts to aid for the poor. In defending himself from public outcry — including news that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has criticized Paul Ryan’s House budget for not meeting “moral criteria” — Pub Senator Pat Toomey suggested that responsibility for the poor should fall to local government and private charities, lest the great unwashed lose motivation to become self-sufficient.
J. Pierpont Morgan couldn’t have said it more clearly: the rabble is not my problem.
Toomey concludes by saying that only a very small segment of the population needs assistance to get by, the rest can take care of themselves. He doesn’t indicate how small that portion, but I doubt that it includes all of the 49.1 million people living in poverty today. And perhaps we should consult the more than 51% of American homeowners whose mortgages are underwater, or the 12 million unemployed, five million of them chronically, to see what they’d say. I’d like to see their budget suggestions.
The new Republican presumptive apparently agrees with all things Ryan, including his “Reverse Robin Hood” plan for those in poverty. Ryan’s proposal would reward the 1% with a $4.3 trillion tax cut while removing $5.3 trillion from low income programs, including cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, welfare, federal pensions and food stamps. I can’t figure out how the Republicans expect to sell this to their pensioners, certainly not without some religious superstar out there sweetening the pitch with renewed culture war. Left to Romney’s poll-flattening prowess, this isn’t a winning proposition. Alas, Mr. Romney is not beloved by the party. He flip-flops, and not — like John Kerry — as a change of stand after careful scrutiny. Sometimes Mitt flips and flops in the same day, the same week, the same speech.
For instance, although Mitt was firmly on his stay-at-home wife’s side in the Mommy Wars, he also thinks welfare mothers with toddlers need to get off their big asses (with a nod to, yes, Bill Maher) and find a job because there is “dignity in work.” A friend reminded me that Chairman Mao would agree with him, and methinks Chairman Romney would flip over that — just before he flopped. It wouldn’t take much provocation, he can’t seem to help himself. I’m not sure how even his own can take him seriously; the insiders definitely don’t, and they fear that perhaps the voters won’t, either.
I’m both grateful and sympathetic. Years of our Dubby going after “Democrat policies” with a sneer and blink, and an election season watching Sarah Palin pull the pin on McCain’s every attempt to offer a viable challenge to the Democrats, have not prepared me for this train wreck of a candidate. It’s painful to listen to the litany of outright lies Romney assigns to the straw man he’s running against. Few of his imaginings apply to the president, but that won’t stop Mitt, who has been campaigning with the same tired rhetoric now for eight — count ‘em — years. And it won’t matter to the Pub base, who would believe any evil of the black Muslim who’s illegally occupying the White House. If we’re lucky, though, it might matter to those who demand that a political argument make sense. We shall have to wait and see, because, God/dess help us, we’re just at the beginning of this crazy election season, with Pluto and Uranus prepared to provide the fireworks. It will not be pretty.
Yes, the frustration has already built to fever pitch this political season — this changeling year of 2012 — and we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Yet sadly, with frustration comes disaster; the kind of violent overreaction and emotional explosion we think of as random, but which very seldom is. Although it’s painful, it’s worth our while to examine carefully the stories of some of our all-too-frequently reported shooters and wing-nuts to see how in so many respects, they are just like us. The guy sitting at home, unemployed and despondent, slipping shells into his Saturday Night Special, could be the same guy who wanted, like me, to slap the placating smile off Cokie Roberts’ face. The person who turns violence upon him or herself is often one who has dealt with too much cold calculation from those s/he trusted. Those who cannot manage the pain will find a way to stop it.
I won’t list any of the outrages that might tip you, or me, or our brothers and sisters over into violence, sparing you more cold hard facts about life in this USA, but if you have the belly for it, open this link to read some surprising back-stories. You won’t discover that blood and guts sent the shooters out into darkness; more often you’ll find dollars and cents behind that mighty shove. You’ll find partnerships shaking apart, options closing, obligations too steep to meet. You’ll make a connection to the financial issues that drive all of us and push us closer to the edge, the heavy footprint of injustice that makes some of us snap. You’ll find how easy it is to put yourself in the narrative.
And that IS the next step, the one that takes us into the possibility of healing ourselves. The experience of moving our thought process from our brain into the seat of our soul, the heart, is how we will discover in ourselves the ability to relate to each other’s pain, to be tender with the wounded, gentle with the frightened, patient with the confused. That’s how we must close out the final chapter of the old way and write the beginning of the new one.
No use looking for help from the old Handbook, then. We’re making all this up as we go along. All that’s happening outside of us has its counterpoint within us. All these things that need a new beginning in our nation are the same ones that were begging for a higher expression within us for decades. We’re in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Feel that occasional tremble, hear that occasional hum? If you do, then you are — as I Can Has Cheezburger would say — “doin’ it right.” That internal flutter is your cells adjusting to the influx of light. That hum is your heart taking dominion over your overloaded brain. And that calm at the center of your being is the scribe that will write the last chapter.
Meanwhile there are things to do. We must grow ourselves a movement, seeding into the spring renewal of #occupy. With congress as conservative today as when robber barons ruled the day a hundred years ago, those of us on the left would do well to quit infighting. Democrats will likely succeed this year not because they are so clever at convincing voters of the wisdom of their policy, but rather because the right has fractured, leaving behind the discipline that traditionally unified their numbers. Unless the Gilded Age sounds like more fun than a bag of puppies, we’d better come together to keep ourselves from being dragged back in time. That is, at the very least, a waste of precious time and energy.
We need to be acting globally while thinking locally, ready to participate with vendors, social networks and political voices that share our value system. We need to boycott those things we know to work against progress. There has been talk about a general strike this May Day — a powerful and appealing notion — but without the needed leadership that would herd all the cats under one umbrella. Still, there are events planned, including a proposed “consumption” holiday. Worthwhile activity!
Doing a surprisingly good job of finding liberal sponsorship, Occupy Spring has made activist training available to everyone. Those who missed the actual event can take the two-hour training on line, especially effective for newbies who want to be prepared for non-violent direct action and planning. MoveOn recently sponsored this activity, something of a first for them. Van Jones also offers worthwhile information at Rebuild the Dream, including e-mail alerts encouraging activist events in civil liberties and environmental issues.
We’re writing that last chapter, closing up the old way to make room for the new. How do we want it to read? How shall we re-order the planet to establish tolerance, respect, humility, kindness and justice as tangible realities? We need to be careful not to think too hard, not to argue the number of angels that could dance on the head of a pin. Just as there are many paths to truth, there are many ways to access the human heart. We already have all our answers, we brought them with us. Now we just need to feel what’s there to do and let our feet and hands follow.
It’s time to dream big dreams, tap our heart knowledge and flood this planet with a new vibration of love and healing. As Jung told us, “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Don’t be afraid to enter heart-space, don’t be afraid to find what’s written there. It’s time to come awake.
*Public outrage has won the day by prompting ALEC to disband several of it’s task forces, but the Koch Brothers and their corporate friends are still obstructing progress in many areas, including prison reform, an end to the war on drugs, and climate change legislation. Go here and here for more information and activism.