“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside awakes.”
– Carl Jung
It was easy to get lost in the cacophony of voices this week, crying their pain and grief about race, law, finance: all real problems of real people, things we can relate to now that politics is highly personal. Cable television, talk radio, and the internet all gave voice to outrage and sorrow. The voices were angry, fearful, strident, the political atmosphere supercharged with speculation, the talking heads exploding with impassioned opinion.
It was difficult not to lose patience with some of these people, seemingly unaware of or unconcerned with their obvious hypocrisy and paranoia. I suspect some of them are like drunks at a dinner party, they won’t be embarrassed about wearing the lampshades on their heads until they sober up and realize someone took pictures. Others are just con men, manipulating public emotion for their own benefit and profit.
As if the worst of Mars-Neptune delusion was at play on my television screen, I thanked my lucky stars that Mars and Mercury were both retro, slowing things down just a bit. Believe it or not, we’re enjoying a brief lull in the 2012 energy right now. It’s a good time to gather our wits about us; we’ll need them this year if we’re to keep solid footing. This is a time of discovery, of rooting out our darkest fears, refreshing our highest aspirations; of deciding who we are and who we want to become. A strong heart and a clear head are required, or we’ll all end up like the JetBlue pilot whose cheese so publicly slipped off his cracker. If we don’t keep tabs on this stuff, it will sneak up behind us to bite us on the butt.
So it was with growing weariness that I, again, gave myself permission to be carried along in the drama-stream for awhile, floating down the dark passages of realities very different from my own. Long a believer in Stephen Colbert’s assertion that reality has liberal bias, I have to arm myself with a kind of protective coating when I make these trips into political fantasy. Think big ol’ body condom of rationality, keeping me from getting anything on me. Still, blocking out the vibratory horror of people wanting us all to live out dark dreams with them takes focus. I think of it as spiritual weight-lifting, but you know, some days, you just don’t want to work out.
There are old white guys in Oklahoma, for instance, who think Gawd Almighty gave them say over what happens in my vagina. These are the very people who legislated against the improbable dangers of Sharia law in their neighborhoods, showing the same delusional vigor that Hitler Youth displayed when turning on their parents. There is nothing less attractive than a zealot. To be sure, there are plenty of other states with Taliban instincts regarding women’s reproductive health — promoted mostly by semi-hysterical men, wrapped in a flag, carrying a cross — and if you live in one of these, you know.
At some point, women have to figure out the obvious: we’re the majority.
Frankly, I think women voters have this all wrong, defending against the attacks of moralistas. I think a good offense should be in the offing instead. If we want to see some REAL hysteria, we could join some of our sister-legislators in creating a political shit-storm over the use of taxpayer money for Viagra™, create some blow-back against loose talk of rape by insisting that if men use their penises as weapons, they have to register them at a national DNA bank. Want to hear some howls? Let’s see the patriarchs put their genitals in the line of fire and see how they like it.
Also missing the point, there are people of the conservative persuasion who think wearing a hoodie is more threatening than waving a loaded gun, creating a marketing strategy for the NRA — an equal opportunity exploiter — to sell hoodies with a special pocket designed to conceal a weapon. Hoodies make a thug, so they suppose, much as single earrings make gays and piercings make freaks. That is probably why they threw the black Representative in a hoodie off the floor of Congress this week, and I’d like to go on record as stating that they shouted him down while he was reading to them from the Holy Bible. Yes, he was wearing a hat on the floor; God/dess bless those who do the “wrong” thing for the right reasons.
To be sure, delving into the highjinks on the Hill is almost always discouraging. To quote Colbert again, “I love the truth. It’s the facts I’m not a fan of,” and there are a lot more facts going on in our nation’s capitol than truth, I fear. This week, the House of Representatives once again passed a budget that originated in the narrow passages of Republican “Young Gun” Paul Ryan’s mind, punishing the poor, rewarding the rich, and driving a stake through Big Bird’s heart by entirely defunding PBS. This drew little public commentary from a nation that is challenged on so many political fronts; figuring out which takes priority is a full-time job.
We’ve become dangerously cavalier about leaving decisions about the future in the hands of House radicals and ideologues. Those of us who watch carefully count on cooler heads in the Senate to throw a block on these mean-spirited legislators, but — be aware! — unless we turn out in droves in November, that e-brake will disappear altogether. With rare exceptions, the millionaires in Washington, D.C. have even less heart than Uncle Dick Cheney, who has borrowed someone else’s now that his own has finally quit trying to silence him: five heart attacks isn’t a lifestyle warning, it’s a soul contract. (Some camps insist that Dick is a clone. I would not be surprised.)
Sucking most of the oxygen this week, the Supreme Court engaged in three days of legal gibberish over the Affordable Care Act, a case I doubt would have been heard were it the brainchild of a Republican president. The pundits went nuts, opinions flying like bats at twilight. On day one, Obamacare was shaky but holding its own. On day two, the mandate had been dealt death blows. By day three, the most ambitious progressive legislation since LBJ’s Civil Rights Act was left bleeding in the dust, its only hope to emerge unscathed the court’s reluctance to throw the cards in the air and create financial and organizational chaos in the health care industry.
With each passing hour, the drama ratcheted up. Obama’s presidency itself was reported to be in deep trouble thanks to the criticism of the five conservative justices and their concern over the constitutionality of making the public buy medical insurance. In argument, broccoli was mentioned numerous times, while mandatory car insurance, Social Security and Medicare insurance premiums were not. Once again, truth is more often a nuanced conversation, lost in a barrage of supposed factoids thrown together, willy-nilly, by the radicals hoping something will stick. Broccoli stuck to Scalia, who seemed content with the possibility of the nation’s uninsured falling by the wayside, untreated and undefended. (Ever wonder if Thomas and Scalia are carrying, under those robes? Betcha!)
It might have helped calm public concern if we’d known that all three days of hysteria were essentially moot: the final decision is unlikely to be presented before the end of the court session in June. This argument phase is a kind of mental masturbation for the Supremes, who think out loud at these events. They’ve assuredly formed opinions on so vital a court case long before and must now weigh the political cost of their finding. No, that’s not the way the third pillar of democracy is supposed to behave, obligated to remain above partisanship. And yes, that’s who they’ve become in recent years, although to be fair the right might say the same of the left-leaning courts that followed FDR into the mid-20th century. Still, the nature of the current dialog revealed a good deal about the politics of the Supremes themselves. If I hear one more conservative fuss about Democrats “legislating from the bench” while at least four of the Federalist Supremes seem to have every intention of doing so regarding ACA, I shall spit!
Oh, we wanted change and didn’t we just get our wish! Isn’t it amazing that in the brief years since this new century began, we have grown to consider the presidency irrelevant and the court system ideologically corrupt? Isn’t it remarkable that we all know the church is the institution least likely to offer us moral leadership even as Congress has become the place least interested in representing citizens’ rights? Is that because these systems have suddenly become so obviously flawed, or is it because we have finally begun to see the flaws that were there all along? And do we see them now because the nation is sinking beneath their weight, or because we’re ready to grow beyond them?
It’s painful that we have had to live through the worst polarization since the Civil War in order to understand that we’ve met the enemy and it is us, as Pogo would say. Painful that we’re still pitted against one another, hurtful that some of us are still holding to an individual, tribal construct rather than an inclusive one, eager to discard the poor and vulnerable along the way. And hurtful as well that we judge each other rather than helping to bind up our common wounds. These discomforts will hurt less if we think of them as necessary growing pains in consciousness. Consider that each little pain might be the last before the light dawns.
It’s us, both the problem and the solution to everything we see around us. We can’t turn to the government, the church or the law to untangle us from this mess we’ve made, because each of those institutions has proven to be no more than a consensus mentality of the people who serve in it. They no longer offer us the leadership we expect because we’ve grown beyond them. No outside authority is going to make this situation right for us, even though some of us desperately seek rescue from an unaccustomed responsibility for self. Connecting the dots, then, if we can’t find help from outside of ourselves, there is only one more place to look.
We must face this empty place within ourselves, inhabit it with love and acceptance, even if we find fear there or dark imaginings. We must come to that near-death walk that allows us to surrender all we’ve known, mustering faith to reach out into the unknown to find something more. In some circles, this is called shamanism — in others this process is simply known as “becoming an adult.” Clearing what we hold within us is both that “inner work” we’re so tired of as well as the creative work we so desire, both and the same. The universe never allows us to judge against ourselves, you see; it will mirror us back to ourselves until we see clearly. Each of us is responsible for creation, home base to everything that happens next. We’re the place where clarity must be born if we’re to bring it to the world.
The enemy as well as the avatar is within us, along with the choice of which we will choose. Here, stepping into the spring of 2012, each of us have all we need to grow into our power, to sharpen our intuition, to usher in the creativity tomorrow will require of us. Our willingness to see ourselves clearly, to take responsibility, to suspend judgment, to forgive ourselves and others: all these are critical for the healing consciousness that can bind up a conflicted nation and world.
A Course in Miracles tells us that, “God is very quiet for there is no conflict in Him.” In a season of conflicted voices, what we’re seeking is very quiet, a gentle affirmation for the new, the generous, the loving; a quiet insistence that this thing is already done in us, that it will grow in our experience as we tend its growth within. Foster a lush growth of consciousness within you in the coming weeks then, even as the external voices get louder. Let the others go crazy this season. Surrender to the calm voice within, trust the eventuality of this quickly-dawning new era and most importantly, choose peace.