Let Me Recognize the Problem So it Can Be Solved

Dear Friend and Reader:

Working with my collaborators at Planet Waves, I set out on a mission of finding signs of progress amidst the many strange and tragic news events of 2013. Americans, as a lot, are people averse to following current events, and when we do, we rarely look back in an honest way.

It’s true, there’s hardly time these days. Yet part of not looking back means not remembering what we’ve learned in the past, not taking advantage of our mistakes. It sounds good to praise the power of now, but that serves little purpose if you forget a discovery about yourself that you made a day or a week ago and never put it to use.

Butters prays to the all-knowing NSA, asking for protection for his friends, his family and even Cartman. Image: South Park Studios.

By many accounts, we are alive in a momentous era in history, and events of 2014 are going to ramp this up by a few orders of magnitude. Astrology describes this scenario in a longterm aspect called the Uranus-Pluto square, part of a cycle that you can trace back through history and observe the upheavals, revolutions and transformations of society. This one pattern is enough to shake up any skeptic who claims astrology isn’t real.

The last time we experienced a major phase of this cycle was in the mid-1960s, when Uranus and Pluto formed a conjunction. It’s only in hindsight that we can see the positive developments of that era. Yes, it was an exciting time to be alive if you were not wracked with anxiety or paranoia. There was great music, better drugs than we have today and the social environment was far less uptight. Many people felt the calling to get involved politically. Yet sadly, many look back and describe their experiences of that era as empty.

There were also the assassinations of many progressive leaders, and while that was happening, tens of thousands of 18-year-old boys were being shipped to Vietnam and coming home in flag-draped coffins a year later, or soaked with dioxin and terror three years later. Many people lost close friends, boyfriends, fathers, husbands and brothers to a war that just about everyone now admits was a pointless disaster. Yet who stands up to the equally corrupt, profit-driven war machine today? Do you?

Mars retrograde in Libra is going to send a jolt of energy through the Uranus-Pluto square, and precipitate many events long in development.

In searching for the positive, just about everything fell into one category — the revelation or acknowledgment of a problem that had been previously concealed or denied. The main developments seemed to be evidence of people waking up to injustice in one form or another.

There is a lesson in the workbook for A Course in Miracles that is titled, “Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved.” It begins, “A problem cannot be solved if you do not know what it is. Even if it is really solved already you will still have the problem, because you will not recognize that it has been solved. This is the situation of the world. The problem of separation, which is really the only problem, has already been solved. Yet the solution is not recognized because the problem is not recognized.”

Problem 1: NSA Spying Is Unconstitutional

In June, a man named Edward Snowden revealed to the world that the Obama administration had expanded the program of spying on the American people, created by the Bush administration. This caused an actual fuss.

Snowden, fearing for his life and his freedom and preferring not to be tortured, went first to Hong Kong, then to Moscow, where Vladimir Putin gave him a visa to stay for a year.

Various courts have litigated the program and in logic befitting Alice in Wonderland, managed to find it constitutional. Then in late December, a federal judge named Richard Leon came out and said the obvious: the program is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Judge Richard Leon. Photo from Suffolk University Law School.

That is the one that supposedly guarantees that the American people shall be secure in their papers and their possessions, which will be subject to search only with warrant specifically naming the thing to be seized.

Leon was appointed by Pres. George W. Bush, which may seem a little strange — but a true conservative believes in following the Constitution, and federal judges are appointed for life to make it possible for them to think with their own minds.

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary’ invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” Judge Leon wrote in a 68-page ruling. “Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”

We contacted Judge Leon’s chambers to get his date of birth, so we could look at his chart. The court clerk said that we could have the data as long as we promised to keep it private. So I will not be publishing the chart, but I can tell you about his chart. Judge Leon has a conjunction of the Sun and Chiron in Sagittarius, the sign of the higher courts. Sagittarius is a sign known for its guts and its love for freedom. Sun conjunct Chiron is the very image of a maverick willing to hold Big Daddy government accountable.

Sun-Chiron in Sagittarius emphasizes teacher of ethics quality of Chiron. Mars conjunct Saturn in Virgo is someone who actually cares about the details, and who doesn’t want to be pushed around.

With a little tuning up, it’s easy to get a potential birth time, which emphasizes his willingness to take responsibility (Nessus rising, ‘the buck stops here’, in Taurus based on truly-held values) and that characterizes his nature as a public figure who wants to keep some vestige of privacy in his own life by not publishing his private data. It’s also interesting that he trusted us enough not to — that tells you something about him.

“He loves Beethoven and he loves rock-and-roll,” Richard Hauser, a vice president and assistant general counsel at Boeing, as well as a former law partner of Leon’s, told The Washington Post. Now that explains everything.

Judge Leon’s ruling will work its way up through the D.C. circuit appellate court and most likely to the Supreme Court. Whether it’s upheld or not, the ruling was a shock to all the apologists who made excuses for how it was ok to mass harvest data, including for example MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell, who really seems to think that we’re being spied on for our own good.

The same week, a panel commissioned by Pres. Obama recommended that the president remove NSA authority over phone data, leave it in the hands of private companies, and put the NSA under civilian control.

We are very close to recognizing this is a problem. Why most people don’t get angry about it is interesting, and can be explained by the idea that someone cares enough to listen to them. I proposed this in one of my columns, and then South Park noticed the same thing and used the concept in an episode from September (Let Go, Let Gov), featuring Butters praying to the NSA for the protection of his friends. NSA spying plays into a God complex that both the government and its citizens have. At its essence this is a spiritual problem.

Problem 2: Government-Subsidized Minimum Wage

In 2013, protests about below-poverty wages erupted outside fast food restaurants and big box stores like Walmart. It actually made the news when Walmart suggested that employees donate food to one another so they could have a good Thanksgiving.

Fast food workers stage a protest against McDonald’s outside one of its restaurants in NYC. Photo by Eduardo Munoz.

One of my favorite facts of the year is that megacorporations that pay minimum wage (and often, minimum taxes) have massive numbers of employees on public assistance. An astounding 52% of McDonald’s employees receive food stamps or other forms of public assistance, costing the government $1.2 billion a year, while the company makes $5.46 billion in profits.

McDonald’s CEO Donald Thompson is paid $6,875 an hour. Were he paid the federal minimum wage, he would have to work 1.89 million hours a year.

Conglomerate Yum! Brands comes in second place for pumping the government, with Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC eating $648 million in public assistance; Subway is next, costing $436 million, Burger King $356 million, Wendy’s $278 million and so on. Fast food corporations chiseling their employees costs the government $3.8 billion each year.

It is good news that we know this. It makes it a lot easier to see that those who advocate for “free market” capitalism are full of shit. This kind of information may take a little time to sink in, and it has to sink in deeper than the public’s addiction to fat, salt, sugar, cheap meat and carbs, but it still counts for raising consciousness.

Problem 3: Monsanto (and it’s now a household word)

I have covered the crimes of Monsanto since 1991, so it’s always been a household word wherever I live — and a secret just about every place else. This year, Monsanto came under the spotlight after a worldwide protest was called against the agricultural nightmares it creates.

March Against Monsanto — the first-ever global protest against a company — in Venice Beach, CA. Photo by Lizanne Webb.

On May 25, the March Against Monsanto was staged, with protests in cities around the world. While this was not exactly the Occupy movement, it was a miracle that people came out to protest a corporation that until recently was known mostly to farmers and people who visited Disney World as a kid.

The battle over labeling genetically modified foods did not go well, but it’s now on the surface of awareness. On the eve of the March Against Monsanto, 71 senators voted against an amendment that would have guaranteed states the right to enact mandatory GMO labeling laws. Meanwhile, the FDA tried to run interference on state labeling, saying that it could not conflict with federal labeling regulations. It all comes down to money, and everyone involved in the issue knows that.

One problem is the bribery known as campaign contributions. One of GMO’s biggest apologists, Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, received $739,926 in campaign contributions from agriculture firms in 2012, which would give her a reason to chirp endless lies about how wonderful GMO crops are, how they resist disease and feed the poor and resist droughts. All of this is now out in the open.

One problem getting the country on board is junk food. Those who chow down on Doritos don’t really care what kind of corn it is.

Problem 4: Relationship Bigotry

We actually made some progress on this one. The Supreme Court threw out the Defense of Marriage Act, one of the most ridiculous laws ever written, passed thanks to two serial adulterers, Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton.

California’s referendum allowing same-sex marriages was also upheld by the Supreme Court. There are now 17 states that allow same-sex marriage and 33 that ban same-sex marriage. That may seem lopsided, but the cat is out of the closet. The important thing is that the Supreme Court has set a precedent, and any law that is challenged could easily fall on its face.

Pope Francis just likes to have fun, he loves women and he doesn’t think that the church should judge gay people.

Many places with a ban have populations that are not nearly as bigoted as their neanderthal, religious-nut politicians. Speaking of neanderthals, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty and Alec Baldwin got spanked — to the tune of millions — for making homophobic comments. Baldwin lost his program after making an anti-gay slur to a photographer.

Phil Duck took a public flogging from A&E for stating in an interview with GQ magazine (among other things) that the United States has a problem with sin.

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

For additional emphasis and color, he added: “It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

His apologists are saying he has a right to express his views under freedom of speech, which is true — and A&E has a right to dump him for the same reason. Let’s see if they do. It’s too bad Anything That Moves is not in print anymore — I would buy him a gift subscription.

Meanwhile in Rome, the new Roman Catholic pope even got into the act, telling reporters, “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, well who am I to judge them? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in a very beautiful way, but says, wait a moment, how do you say…it says, [that] these persons must not be marginalized for this, they must be integrated into society.”

Then came the best surprise of all. In December, a federal judge ruled that laws prohibiting what the Utah law called ‘cohabitation’ — that is, a word in the statute substituting for polygamy — violate the First Amendment right to freedom of religion and assembly. The law said that, Clark Waddoups quoted Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, saying that the Constitution provides people with “an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression and certain intimate conduct.” Judge Waddoups was also appointed by George W. Bush. Go figure.

It’s worth adding a bit about Frank Schaefer, the United Methodist minister who officiated at the wedding of his gay son. He was suspended from the ministry after a church ‘trial’ in November, but he has refused to step down.

And Then There’s Us

It seems in hindsight that the collective awareness has indeed cracked open within a relatively short amount of time. Much of what I’ve just reported is indicative of raising consciousness. What seemed totally impossible just years ago is now a palpable reality. Each of these developments offers some evidence of actual change.

A high school student at an anti-government protest in Paris sees her reflection in a riot officer’s shield. Photo by Eric Francis.

Yet those of us who have been aware of these problems for a while know there is still a long way to go. Fortunately, we are in the midst of an acceleration process indicated by the Uranus-Pluto square.

Awareness is a crucial first step. That’s where we are, on the verge of fully recognizing what we know. Many people are observing that an old order is dissolving. Yet for real change to happen, many individuals need to take up the work in a deeply personal way. With awareness comes the need for incredible responsibility; for a kind of impeccability.

New consciousness can start to rise, and then be blocked by old hangups, habits, the fear of change and other facets of the past weighing on people who say they want to move ahead. Progress requires more than hope and good intentions. There is the reality of the road ahead.

Those who have already treaded the path of real change for a while know how deep and dark the journey is; how uncomfortable; the extent to which any seemingly outer issue must be embraced as an inner reality in order for actual change to come. We know how much therapy, spiritual work and experience it can take to unravel deeply ingrained patterns.

It is challenging to take that kind of responsibility and do something about what we feel and see; it’s much easier to stand in dumbfounded paralysis, completely shocked and desensitized, or to entertain ourselves to death, watching events unfold like a circus. How we respond is ultimately a personal choice. The moment of decision is arriving.


Weekly Horoscope for Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, #980 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19) — To accept the idea that ‘this is the way things always were’ is an excuse, especially if you know the theme of your life is change. The question seems to be, will you take initiative, or are you expecting someone else to do it for you? I suggest you make your own decisions and initiate your own moves rather than expecting something in your environment will start the process. What you come up with will be a lot more interesting than what anyone else does, even if others talk louder. Just think your plan through a couple of times, especially if it’s work-related. Things are changing around you, and I suggest you see where they shake out over the next five or six days before doing anything too radical. The best idea will be a simple, easy-to-understand and, most of all, useful one.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Imagine that you visit an older relative you have not seen in years, and while you’re there you wander up to the attic. You see a trunk that seems to be for you, illuminated by the light from a small window, and you open it up. It’s full of artifacts from a century ago, stuff belonging to people to whom you’re related but who came through the planet decades before you. Old diaries, letters, newspaper cuttings, photographs, physical objects from life in the past, are all neatly, lovingly preserved in this trunk, and as you go gently through them, you figure out that they were indeed intentionally left for you. But who left it there? And how did they know you would find it? This is all a metaphor, and from a psychological point of view, you’re the one who has left a gift, an inheritance or a trousseau for yourself. There’s a lot in there, as will slowly become obvious over the next month or so.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Be careful not to take on the issues of others. You may be especially reactive over the next few days, especially if people around you are in an intense mood. I suggest you choose your influences and your company carefully, especially through the 24th. Don’t let anyone push you into any agreement, longterm or otherwise, that you don’t really want to make, no matter how infectious their enthusiasm or persuasion may be. Events of the next week or so will help you figure out where you really stand with yourself, and therefore, put the opinions and feelings of others into context. It is this context — remember the concept — that is essential to your making healthy decisions for yourself. You’re someone who is inclined to consider the wellbeing of others in the choices you make, so you don’t have to worry about that factor; at the moment, you cannot count on others to do so.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Keep your heart and mind open and you’ll be better able to receive what others are offering you in your intimate relationships. You may sense that there’s a lot to their feelings, and you may be hesitant about allowing yourself to experience that. Phobia about intimacy, and hesitation in matters of the heart, do little to foster your happiness. Every relationship experience requires taking a risk, though in truth most of that involves allowing yourself to be vulnerable. A little self-therapy on that topic would be a great place to start. Ask yourself what you fear, when it comes to getting close to someone you care about. Is it about hurting someone else? If so, how long can you keep that up for? Or is it about the way a relationship might change your life? You already know how you feel. You know what you want. That’s actually worth something.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — You may have health matters on your mind, though I don’t suggest you stress about them; stress seems to be the problem. There’s also some missing information that will clarify matters considerably, and you won’t need to wait for long. I suggest that you strictly maintain a few guidelines, however. Make all your own decisions, based on what you know and understand. That’s another way of saying pay attention, take an active role and use what you know. Don’t succumb to anyone’s authority merely for its own sake or on the assumption that someone else must know more than you do. Your vitality is what helps you heal, grow and create your environment, and all three of those elements are interrelated. Your existence is holistic — part of an integrated whole, with each aspect influencing the others. You don’t need to treat symptoms, but rather, seek deeper understanding, shift your orientation and keep reminding yourself that everything is connected.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You seem to be experiencing boldness and hesitancy at the same time. The combination, if left unaddressed, could create delays and waste energy; there’s no point spinning your wheels to get nowhere. And you have plenty of places to go, and experiences you want to have. If you have any form of mixed feelings, take the elements in the mix one at a time and see what they are trying to tell you. See if you can notice your source. The self-assertiveness you’re feeling does indeed seem to be about you; the insecurity and hesitancy seems to be coming from somewhere else, perhaps even someone’s influence from the deep past. It would not vaguely surprise me if that turned out to involve another person’s religious baggage that was leaking into your environment. In plain terms, you don’t have to worry about what others will think. You don’t have to be pure or give the image of being ‘not a slut’ to project some kind of faux conservatism. What you feel is more meaningful than what anyone else thinks.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Venus, the planet traditionally associated with your sign, stations retrograde over the weekend. That’s a fairly rare event; no planet is retrograde less than Venus, though this event happens entirely in Capricorn, where Venus has not been exclusively retrograde since 1802. The next two months are a truly beautiful time to resolve old family issues, particularly on your father’s side of the family. The material may surface on its own; you may be aware of topics or themes that you’ve been brewing for a few years, which you’re now ready to address as a conscious choice. Please use this time well. Nothing like it will happen again for years to come. For you, making peace with the past also means understanding what happened, why it happened, and how it influenced you. Nobody is going to hand you easy answers, but you are eminently capable of putting the pieces together. Take your time; be both careful and intuitive.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — You’ve got to let some of this pressure off. It seems as if you think you’re supposed to feel a certain way in certain situations, as if the ‘correct’ emotional tone were prescribed in advance. This extends to your opinions about things and the specific way you’re supposed to think. None of this is valid; much of the pressure is your attempt to respond to the illusion that it might be. I suggest you question that assumption, and consider the possibility that it has a source. Once you make the decision to express yourself rather than suppress yourself, you will feel less depressed, more alive, and more in control of your life. You may feel that to do those things, you have to change your whole way of thinking, though it’s easier and subtler than you were told, especially with the kind of cosmic support you have right now.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Consider carefully the influence you have on someone close to you — you’re a much more potent force than you may imagine. That includes on individual people and also on your total environment. You may be going through so much interesting, intense, strange or curious inner movement that you may not be noticing how it’s radiating out into the world around you. Take the time to get some feedback from others about what they perceive about you. Open up the space for a dialog and put more energy into listening than into speaking. Trust that people already get what’s on your mind. You will learn a lot from what they have to say and from slowing down enough to get a sense of what they are feeling. While this theme is focused right now, it’s going to be a recurring theme for the next two or three seasons. So, take a deep breath.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — The sky is now focused on your sign. The Sun makes its annual return to Capricorn on Saturday (the southern solstice), and just a few hours later, Venus stations retrograde in your sign. This is a combination of factors that are likely to ignite your passion, help you focus your energy and feel how strong, loving and creative you can be. The reason you can be these things is because you are them already, so this is really a matter of emphasis, and of bringing out what is already inside you. I suggest, in that spirit, that you remove as many encumbrances on your time and energy as you can for the next few weeks. Make room for yourself. Take time to reflect and to appreciate who you have become and what you’ve created for yourself. This will be a meaningful time of reflection that will have the power to shape the course of your life.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You seem to be asking yourself some deep questions about a relationship, and about the meaning of all intimate partnerships. This is not a fleeting inquiry but rather a crux point where you are finally getting to the heart of the matter. These questions involve whether you’re able to fully express your emotional needs, what kinds of commitment you’re comfortable with, and the role of marriage in your life. There is the ever-present question of negotiating your independence. This is a moment to consider all of your reasoning around the concept of permanence, and the way that it influences your emotional climate. There is also the not-so-small matter of how and why resources are exchanged. What falls under the category of an obligation, what do you feel is taken from you, what is a fair exchange and what is freely given? Once you have unpacked these subjects, you’ll find it a lot easier to relate to others in a way that is fair, and that you understand.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Take advantage of excellent opportunities to expand your income the next few weeks, beginning immediately. You already know of some prospects; there are others you have not thought of, and still others that you came up with and set aside or forgot about. You may find it easier now than ever to cast off any doubts or misgivings you have over the so-called profit motive, which you can replace with the elemental fact that your work and your ideas have value and worth to the people who get the benefits. However, you don’t even need to go there; it still has the feeling of an excuse. Look at your life, size up your resources, consider what you’re capable of doing and decide what you want to do. Develop a strategy that you adapt as necessary, but use as a guideline. In worldly terms, this should involve income for work and services provided, how to efficiently handle debt and tax-related matters, and an overall business plan. Get competent help when you need it.

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