The Bridge Nobody Saw

Dear Friend and Reader:

ONE THING I’ve been thinking about a lot the past few days is what it would be like for Martin Luther King to have seen Barack Obama’s speech Thursday night. Dr. King of all people would understand that this was not the symbol of progress, but the thing itself. Whether Barack wins or loses, what matters is that he is a contender for president of the United States.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, July 1939: “Colored” water fountains were fixtures throughout the South during the Jim Crow era. Photo by Russell Lee.

I was born in 1964, and within my lifetime, “separate but equal” facilities still existed. It may seem outrageous to any young person today, but until 1965, in our country, African Americans had to use different bathrooms than Caucasians. It was not until 1967 that the Supreme Court ruled in a case called Loving v. Virginia that blacks and whites could legally marry one another.

For those unfamiliar with history, this was fully 100 years after the abolition of slavery: you know, white folks at the front of the bus and colored folks at the back.

Now we have an African-American presidential candidate, and not only that, a good one. He speaks in full sentences and he can spell his own name and he went to Columbia University in New York City. He has ideas and an aura of authentic dignity. He has spent time living out of the country doing something besides shooting people. He is promising to lead the country on some course other than open war and corporate greed at every possible opportunity.

I have vivid images in my mind of his mom schlepping him around Honolulu as a kid, struggling to pay the bills. He was raised by a single mother, not in a model 2.4 kid, mother, father and Fido household of Americana mythology. He is from an actual normal American family. He has, no doubt, personally gone grocery shopping. He grew up black in the United States, which is an extremely difficult thing to do; that distinction alone has about a one in three chance of landing you in jail in our era. When you have that experience, you know what it means to struggle with the unspoken rules of our society.

These are not the essential qualities of leadership, but they are, in our time, its prerequisites. I, for one, a man born in the 1960s who writes in full sentences and says what I mean, see myself in Barack Obama. Were I going to be a presidential candidate, I would be more like him than anyone I’ve ever seen run for that office. He reminds me of someone I would have happily worked for when one of my hobbies was writing political campaigns. He is the obvious choice, particularly compared to Old Poopie Pants, who can’t open his mouth without telling a lie. Nothing against elderly folks, but we don’t need Grandpa Munson as president right now. We need someone whose biological clock at least puts him in contact with the notion of the future.

What Obama will accomplish, if he’s elected and if the current administration gives up power on Jan. 20, remains to be seen. It’s not easy getting things done in politics even in the very best times, with full cooperation. We are facing an enormous mess to clean up after eight years of a strictly criminal administration that has done little other than pump out the national treasury, shred the environment, wreak havoc on two impoverished countries and have more American kids sent home in body bags than any time since the Vietnam War.

We have at the very least an administration that allowed 9/11 to happen so it could get those wars to happen, and at the worst, rigged up the whole thing.

The banking and credit industries have morphed into one enormous Enron, and in a way directly reminiscent of Enron’s investing tactics, heating oil is going for $5 a gallon. How many more people are going to freeze to death this winter, because of that? We have lived through nearly a decade of an administration that, as Mr. Obama said last night, sat on its hands as a major American city drowned. Oh, and by some coincidence, mostly colored folks lived there.

Obama with wife Michelle and children Thursday night after his acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium.

We have the National Security State spying on members of Congress and many citizens. We have Blackwater Security that has grown too large, and too powerful: literally, a private militia of the Holy Roman Empire. We supposedly have detention centers in every state, and a great many people who believe they have nothing to do with incarcerating “illegal aliens.”

Every day thousands more people are foreclosed out of their homes in our current suburban version of The Grapes of Wrath.

There used to be a time when under circumstances like these, we would vote the gangrenous runts out of office and make sure the other party at least had a chance to straighten things out. However, after two stolen elections — blatantly stolen, not the usual subtle kind of theft — we have a little problem on our hands. Ripped off is one thing, and by whom is another. By now, most of us have heard of Halliburton and the Carlyle Group, the military quartermasters who currently control the White House. Most of them are also involved in the oil industry. Most Americans have been too busy working three jobs to be able to care all that much. And often it takes a while for people to realize they’ve been ripped off. Most people never find out; they just feel the pain.

But we’ve been down so very long that it looks like up. The fact is, we are still down: weighed down with debt, with illness we can’t afford medical care for, with the lingering fear about jobs we don’t know we’ll have next week. Despite this, a lot of people are going to vote for McCain specifically because he’s not black. America’s racial shadow always seems to be cast behind us and we don’t often look over our shoulders.

A lot of people are going to vote strictly on the expectation that McCain will appoint a “pro-life” justice when the next Supreme Court seat becomes available. These are the people who would vote for the “pro-life” candidate even if he happened to be Benito Mussolini. There are more of them than you think.

It’s going to be a close race, and elections are usually a lot easer to steal when the public is split, and it has been profoundly split for the past two elections. Just the fact that we have a president currently seated who lost the popular vote in 2000 should be enough to send chills down everyone’s spine. The fact that the nation did not rise up in protest should induce nausea.

The astrology chart for the 2008 election is a mess, directly reminiscent of the 2000 election. The ice caps are still melting, the economy is still melting and a lot of problems could come down like a house of cards on the next administration. Indeed, we have yet to see the current administration leave office. George Bush is not yet an ex-president and more to the point, Dick Cheney is not an ex-vice president. The Tao Te Ching reminds us that the end is written in the beginning, and the Cheney-Bush administration came in on a constitutional crisis. They are likely to make their exit on one.

Barack Obama entered the stadium to U2’s “City of Blinding Lights”.

But there is other astrology to consider. Pluto, for the past two years, has been making its way across the Galactic Core. Pluto is the planet of evolution, and the core of our galaxy is like the stellar Mecca that we find in the end degrees of Sagittarius. Many of us speculated about what this could mean, since it has not happened in more than 250 years. The last time around, this heralded something called The Enlightenment, the rise of science, the gradual decline of the totalitarian Catholic Church and the birth of the constitutional form of government that we now cling to. On either side of that event last time around, we went from the Salem Witch Trials to the First Amendment.

Though it is difficult to judge the progress of a society, we seem to have crossed a bridge that nobody saw — a bridge that put us into some contact with the basic awareness that change depends on the human factor more than any other one. The scenery on one side of a bridge is not necessarily so different than the scenery on the other side, but it is a different place. In any spiritual process, there are people who lead the way, there are others who go willingly and some go kicking and screaming. There are others who take up arms and go in the other direction.

Many of us talk about changing society without remembering how difficult it is to simply change the way that we live, think or relate to our loved ones. We want change, but we struggle emotionally to cope with our own pain. We forget the desperate fear that keeps millions of people driving two ton SUVs because they feel entitled to live through a car accident that would kill anyone else. Many people are determined to take all their problems into the crematorium and start over again next time.

And there are millions of people around us who are committed to having at least a shred of awareness. That may seem a long way from any destination, but it evokes what A Course in Miracles calls the small willingness to open the way for all the progress that’s necessary.

We have lived through an excruciating phase of Neptune in Aquarius — that pain being masked by the numbness induced by this transit, the culture of mood stabilizers and $5 cups of caffeine and climate controlled vehicles; the supposedly risk free, sex-free culture of Facebook and “friends are the people you text with.”

Bridge to the Core.

Yet Neptune in Aquarius seems to have done something to thaw the hardness of our preconceptions — at least in some folks. Chiron in Aquarius, gradually catching up with Neptune, is pushing many things to the crisis point, such as the state-by-state battle over whether it’s constitutional for gay people to be married to one another. This issue and the mentality behind it have yet to come to a head, but the clay feet may wash out of that extreme hatred and negativity before too much damage is done.

Next spring, Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune meet in a truly magnificent conjunction in late Aquarius (sextile the Galactic Core, to the degree) that will be the true test of what this era has been about. (Neptune in Aquarius dates back to the Clinton impeachment, and Chiron in Aquarius to about 2005. Jupiter has yet to arrive.) To me this aspect is a reminder that whether we are working for personal growth, economic justice, environmental justice or plain old sanity, we have a lot of work to do — no matter who is president. It extends through 2010 and I trust that this will set the tone for the second decade of the 21st century.

Finally, we are entering a long era — seven years — of Uranus square Pluto, astrology that is directly reminiscent of the social upheavals and quest for awareness that came with the 1960s. This aspect goes from Aries to Capricorn, and represents fundamental changes to the structure of society, with changes that touch every single person on the planet.

I recognize that plenty of people have misgivings about Barack Obama. I recognize that he’s a politician. He seems young and he talks a good line. (But if you need to be reminded of our current Orator-in-Chief, click this YouTube link.) And is he electable? Here is a clue. There is an old expression about whether something “plays in Peoria.” That is, will it go over in Middle America, using the most normal place in the universe as a bellwether? I called the Peoria County Clerk the other day and learned that when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004, Obama got 65% of the vote in that county and 70% overall in Illinois. Remember that one fact when you’re listening to poll results in this election.

I recognize it’s really hard to get excited about politics, and we have reasons to be deeply cynical. I am with you. I have been so disgusted that I’ve refused to vote since 1992. This time, I am interested because when I look at Barack Obama, I see a guy standing there who obviously has a soul, and I have not seen that on national television for quite a long time. That gets my attention.

There’s just one thing I just don’t understand about last night’s event in Denver — why were all those Democrats waving the Republican flag?

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis




Weekly Horoscope for Friday, August 29, 2008, #729 – By ERIC FRANCIS

Aries (March 20-April 19)
You have options. The question is on what basis you would choose among them. By now you’ve figured out that you cannot buy a thrill, you can only offer yourself to an experience. The experience you seem to be craving is dedicating your erotic and emotional experiences to healing. This seems like the high road, if not the impossible one; getting any two people onto the same page as regards what is good for both of them presents a special challenge. That’s because the same things might not be good for both. Yet you’re in a rare opening where, if that is possible at all, the time is now. I suggest you establish communication on the important matters while you have a chance. By the end of the month, you will be glad you did.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
You need to work out a balance between creativity and professional responsibility, or better yet, fully integrate the two. It seems that you’re struggling a bit with the creative side of your psyche, even as you try to push yourself toward new possibilities. Your talent is going to emerge as you focus on your regular routines. Work with flexible structures rather than rigid plans. Try something new every day. Communicate with your colleagues regularly and make sure you stay tuned to the same frequency. Your tendency to go it alone, or to retreat into your secluded mental world, is the last thing you want to exercise now. Over the next few weeks it’s vital that you lay down work patterns that are both sustainable and that provide you with the space you need to explore your imagination.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
Planets one by one aligning in your empathic air sign Libra are giving you faith in your imagination and your long-term vision — the two are a great combination. The thing about long-term visions is that they tend to be short lived and short sighted. You’re smart enough and brave enough to stretch your mind and envision a future for yourself. I suggest you take inspiration from how stuck certain parts of your emotional life may feel, without being discouraged by this situation. In other words, you need to use everything you perceive as negative as fuel for something constructive. Remember that you were given your creative gifts both to heal your emotional challenges, and to master the lesson that you are the one who creates your life. This is not, however, something you learn in a day. A year is more like it.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You run the risk of getting stuck in your head when the place you want to dive into is your feelings. From the look of your charts, the difference is similar to having been somewhere a lot of times, versus the thrill of going someplace you’ve never been before. It seems absurd to propose that someone born under your particular sign is cut off emotionally, and that’s not quite what I’m saying. To the contrary, you seem to be bursting with passion, but lodged in some idea of how it’s supposed to feel, or what you’re supposed to do with it. Please don’t make the distinctly postmodern mistake of being afraid to emote, or to experience the emotions of others. It’s currently very rich territory and if you go there, you will be nourished well.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
Your ideas are only as good as your opinion of yourself. Usually this is pretty high, but you still seem to be stumbling over a blockage of some kind. But this currently appears to be more like a stumbling block and less like the Great Wall. Try stepping over it, or if in doubt, to the left or to the right. If the issue seems to be about money, I would propose that’s either a false obstacle, or a distraction that you can just as easily set aside. I suggest that a good first step toward solving any problem is working as a group. Find people who you feel are supportive, and whose ideas mesh with your own, and approach any creative or business problem from a collective standpoint. Several minds will make lighter work, and help ease the sense of burden that you may be facing at the moment.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
This week’s New Moon in your birth sign may have you incessantly asking questions rather than swimming in answers. Both are equally abundant at the moment, so if you’re favoring one over the other, I suggest you notice. What you are questioning is yourself, though this was a situation more appropriate for four or five months ago than it is for today. Therefore, I suggest you look at the way your mental habits are blocking your ability to perceive your resources. The New Moon is conjunct Saturn, and Saturn in one’s own sign is about coming to terms with oneself. I just think you may be taking the long way around the tree to this particular objective. This is a matter of emphasizing the negative or the positive, as a matter of choice.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
With Mercury, Venus and Mars now in your birth sign, you’re clearly feeling some unusual sense of potential; feeling, at least, like you actually exist, which is a triumph in Western society at this time. However, existence is the biggest variable of all, and you’re currently on a course of investigating yourself, defining yourself and then redefining yourself. You’ll come to a conclusion, and discover that there’s a better one to be had. Therefore, don’t be so conclusive about your conclusions. Let them slip and slide; be willing to be wrong even as you’re sure you’re right. I know this sounds like advising a Libra to act like a Libra, but I’m not talking about weighing and balancing; I’m talking about living your personal essence with gusto and then letting it go in exchange for a more interesting version of the truth.

 (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
You are fussier about how you’re perceived in public than you let on. While most of the world knows you to be somewhere between hard-boiled and crispy fried, you and your astrologer know that you’re about as sensitive as they get. Therefore, keep a close eye on your public image, and take steps in advance to make the presentation you want. This counts for the somewhat tense work front, and your of-late itchy and scratchy social life. Get some opinions before you send anything out to an audience. If you send a resume, make sure it’s actually up to date. Accept only the social invitations you want the most. Wear your best clothes. The world may feel like a stuffed box at the moment, but I assure you that there’s ideas, opportunity and love in them thar hills.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
You are slowly conquering the world, or at least you feel that way. This is the week to take a step up. If you initiate a new project, be sure that it’s one that fully reflects your intelligence and your actual ambitions. And be prepared to devote yourself to it for at least a year. The things that happen right will not necessarily happen fast. These days are the time to be precise, not approximate. Work with facts; don’t guess. If you do guess, verify that you’re correct. Use spellcheck. Make sure that anyone who works for you knows they work for you, and make sure that anyone for whom you work knows that you work for them. A little protocol will go a long way toward engendering goodwill, success and in actual fact, happiness.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
You tend to take a practical approach to everything; I suggest you take an approach that emphasizes beauty. Don’t worry, you won’t be sacrificing your ethics or the quality of your efforts, with which you seem to be obsessed. Trust me, you have that aspect of life down to a science. You need to go for the refinements now; the flourishes; your sense of presentation. This has three dimensions: the purely aesthetic side, which needs to be present yet understated; clarity, which means a sense of the correct tone as well as the words you choose; and authority. There will be at least one moment in the next few days when you need to take charge. Be authentic, and listen — and people will listen to you.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
Faith and reason would appear to have very little in common, unless you remember that bit from A Course In Miracles about how “that which has the same purpose is the same.” Aleister Crowley covered this territory when he quipped, “Our method is science, our aim is religion.” Current aspects give you an opportunity to blend the best aspects of mind and soul. The two have a relationship, and I suggest you explore it, though taking nothing that you already know for granted. While you’re at it, perhaps take none of your pre-existing doubts for granted, either. This process gets interesting when it comes down to your relationships, particularly if they involve money or agreements. You need to find a balance between facts and faith — and you can.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
Dream on, and dream until they come true. Uranus, the planet of revolution, innovation and the future, is still in your sign. This means that the world, its rigid thought systems, and the people in your life, who tend to be slow and methodical, must contend with you. It does not matter if they don’t want to all the time; quietly, they thank you for pushing not only the message, but the example, of liberation. Deep in your heart, you are fully aware of what so many of the people in your life are moving through and working with. You don’t intimidate them as much as you may think; you inspire them more than you think; but remember how exhausting change can be, particularly if you’ve waited longer than you think you should have. There is no time like the present, but beyond that, remember: there is no time.

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