We see what we choose to see, so they say, and there’s truth to that, but we used to have to work harder at it. Because news and entertainment have morphed into a single entity — infotainment — and bygone days of generations sitting down together in front of radio or TV to share the offering of the day are long behind us, our collective cognition has suffered enormously. Technology brought us options, and our info consumption habits fractured and splintered, exploding into a smorgasbord of individual servings. Now we are able to select only those tidbits that we want to ingest. In a nation grown increasingly egocentric, this kind of socio-political isolation of ideas does not serve us well.
Like kids let loose at the pastry bar, we can consume all the fluff and goo we want with that constantly renewed technology we can’t wait to get our hands on. We can feast on scary stuff, like Laura Ingraham’s Ebola rants on FOX News, putting old folks into panic du jour over pandemic and the horror of Obama allowing dark immigrants to infect the homeland. We can binge two-fisted on sports channels until the testosterone leeches out through our pores, or turn into glitter voyeurs, sucking up the intimate details of our favorite celebrities’ personal lives (as approved and embellished by their handlers and PR people). We can take our radical religion through an IV drip or swallow whole anything the NRA or the NSA (or any other acronym that appeals to us) has to offer. Yes, like Burger King, we can have it our way even if it puts us in a coma.
The litany of ain’t-it-awfuls rings like a cheap watch, striking twelve: ISIS, Ebola, extreme science denial, Syria, extreme sexism, Ukraine, extreme racism, Secret Service scandal, Hong Kong, extreme income equality, war, war and rumors of war! And all that seems almost inconsequential compared to the daily assaults on the social fabric that holds our national community together. Did I mention how much of this seems extreme? How the unusual has become usual but we still can’t quite accept that as “normal?” And that no matter how much we hide our eyes, all these lightning strikes hitting the tower card of our daily experience are illuminating our tattered reality like a neon sign at midnight?
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve certainly relied on selective sight when times were tough and available solutions offered no immediate recourse, choosing not to wallow in oh-shit-oh-dear challenges that pull one down into defeatism. But my innate altruism is informed by a nagging skepticism, constantly reviewing the checks and balances, keeping a watchful eye on reality while walking an emotional high wire. Painful circumstances show up in our lives for a reason, and sometimes they have to turn downright viral to get our attention. It seems as though that’s exactly where we find ourselves today, so let’s kiss Chiron on the lips if we dare and get on with the healing.
And it would seem, if we’ve gained any skill at following the bread crumbs, that things are beginning to shift from the darker forms they’ve lately taken. Climate change is really no longer in question; only the inability of a cynical Congress to make any change from the deliberate denial that feeds the stilted tastes of its radical-right base (and do watch Jon Stewart mess with the Schoolhouse Rock classic, “I’m Just A Bill.” It’s a major not-to-miss hoot!).
ALEC has been discredited with the business class, everyone is aware of the issues with police brutality and militarization, and the Supreme Court is under scrutiny like never before. The right’s howl that Ruth Bader Ginsburg should recuse herself because she’s been speaking out lately were met with a bitch-slap when Scalia made his opinion clear that the founders meant the Constitution to tip toward religion rather than secularism. He sleeps well, he says, knowing exactly what the founders wanted and not having to make any moral decisions himself. (Deep breath!) And wonder of wonders, a judge here in Missouri has ruled that same-sex couples married in other states must be recognized, putting my locals in a state of apoplexy, while in California, Jerry Brown just signed a bill allowing judges to remove guns from family members who appear threatening to relatives.
The resistance that had us pitted against one another in deadlock for so long seems to have yielded a bit of ground in these last few days. You may remember shortly after the Trayvon Martin killing, as we were all being introduced to the self-defense concept of Florida law called ‘stand your ground,’ there was a spate of similar incidents that pushed the envelope way past Zimmerman’s obvious craziness. They’ve turned up again, not such bad pennies after all.
Pulling into a convenience store, a gent named Michael Dunn sprayed an SUV full of black kids with ten bullets because they took exception to his asking them to turn down their “thug music.” This resulted in the killing of 17-year old Jordan Davis, whom Dunn accused of having a gun. No surprise that the man was white and the kids black, right? Dunn was staying at a local motel and, seemingly justified in shooting up the place, didn’t bother to stick around for the cops to come. He went back to his room, fixed a drink, ordered a pizza, and walked his dog. Police eventually found him in his home town days later.
In February, Dunn was found guilty of three counts of attempted murder for shooting at the full car, but the jury deadlocked over killing young Davis. A second trial this week centered on Dunn’s insistence that he was threatened with a weapon. Since none was found, and his subsequent actions were highly questionable, Dunn was convicted of first degree murder this week. There is no quick ‘fix’ for the racism that has a grip on this country, but this verdict, as a bit of a game change, goes a long way toward equalizing justice. When reporters mobbed the young man’s family at the end of the day, his heartbroken father told them — with a singular grace we’ve come to expect from these parents whose children have become unwilling poster children — “We must do a better job of loving each other.”
Around the same time, in Michigan, a black teen whose car had broken down banged on the door of a man who opened it and shot her dead. There is some question as to whether or not he knew her sex or color, just that it was the middle of the night and he was awakened out of a dead sleep by an insistent stranger. Dropping someone on your porch because they startled you is a bit paranoid, seems to me, but there is a ‘shoot first’ law in Michigan. It took a while to work through the system, but essentially the girl was unarmed, probably a bit high, simply looking for help. The shooter’s guilty verdict, along with a display of regret for his actions, was something of a surprise.
Common sense is quietly making a welcome comeback. Like a box of crackerjacks, there appears to be a prize buried deep in the polarity of our current consciousness. The more absurd the accusations, the more temperate the response of a disgusted public. The more deluded the supposition, the more sane the conclusion by those who are painfully aware that the tin foil hats on the right of the political spectrum have contributed to a dysfunctional nation. As if we’re being inoculated against ‘stupid,’ we’re building up an immunity to the embarrassingly childish response of one political party bordering on extinction, as well as a lack of patience with the corporatism and waffling of the other.
The mass hysteria over young people of color taking advantage of older white folk is mostly just that: fear tactics used to achieve political advantage. We’re seeing another version of it in the growing pandemonium over Ebola, which was soundly swept away by Dr. Kent Sepkowitz on Stephen Colbert Thursday night (go to http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/ October 2, 2014, and load Deathpocolypse Now – Ebola in America.) A rattled America plays into the hands of the War Hawks and Chicken Littles. Things that go bump in the night have always been their forte, and Jupiter in Leo has brought out the drama queens to rile up the scaredy cats. Fortunately, the performance is a bit too obvious to scare the majority, or all that crying wolf has us exhausted,, one or the other.
Frankly, we’ve been lethargic about dealing with Ebola, this scourge from half-way around the world. The money needed to educate and create decent living conditions that discourage this kind of outbreak has been missing from the nation’s coffers for awhile now, and while Obama has pledged to do as much as we can, funding for this kind of international service has been whittled away over the years. As with money for campaigns, our e-mail inboxes are filling with requests for financial help. Imagine the hubris of turning to the public and asking them to take care of much of the world, even as many of us struggle to take care of ourselves. But, here we are — caught, in this emergency, with our pants down and our wallets empty.
This is that moment when we all begin to realize that the world is simply a big neighborhood, that virus doesn’t care about political party or religious conviction but thrives and spreads among those who have the fewest options for either healthful living or health care in general. The international community needs to take care of these issues, for self-preservation if nothing more. This is a wake-up call, one that Texas has failed miserably — and, while I hear there’s a big Texas prayer-push for all involved, praying for everyone to be OK isn’t the kind of world-class action we’re in need of right this minute.
I’ve got nothing against prayer, in fact I’m a true believer, but not in the childish prayers of those who ask for outcome rather than in-dwelling. Ask for strength, insight, forgiveness, grace? I’m there. Say the perfect prayer: help! Be open to what appears for you, trusting what shows up to give you what you need, despite appearances to the contrary. The larger energies that infuse us under those circumstances have much to do with what is unseen but deeply felt.
Sometimes seeing is believing, even if the things we believe in are invisible. In fact, that’s often true, even as the reality-base insists that unseen influences must be proven with anecdotal information. For instance, if anyone is brave enough to visit my house today, they’ll have to ignore my snorts and swearing as the Mercury storm turns my PC sullen and unresponsive, my connection on-again, off-again, my job more difficult. They would know without a doubt that I believe in Mercury retrogrades and their ability to make life more complicated. And looking outside at the severe storms that swept away an 80 degree day yesterday to promise a freeze tonight might be enough to convince a few holdouts that extreme weather is upon us, just as climate science warns. Disbelievers can dispute that if they like, but seeing inevitable consequences is powerful mojo.
Some of us believe only what we see with our own eyes, losing faith and hope quickly when the slog is uphill and harder than expected. There is plenty of precedent for this kind of behavior choice. We will find it in the heart of every cynic, every doubter and every disappointed kid at Christmas. We will not find many in this strata of consciousness who add energy to the lifting of the planet. This is the kind of thinking that keeps us looping in pattern. This is consciousness asleep to the possibilities.
Some of us clap hands for Tink to live, expecting to be saved and secured by being obedient to dogma and rarely, if ever, questioning why the things we’ve been told will happen, don’t. That’s seeing what we want to believe, creating a façade to house our belief system and staying closely aligned with those who reinforce it. Fighting for our limitations, owning the result. The success of this process doesn’t bring much satisfaction, but it’s still being done on a major scale. So much of this applies to Christendom that, although that church experience is far behind me, it hurts my feelings. The Protestant church was once the place where social consciousness took root and began to bloom, as it still did when I was a child. That we seem to have lost that in a glut of repressive fundamentalism saddens me, but piques my imagination as to how it will revive itself. Nothing is ever lost, it only changes and Christianity needs to up its game, letting in the Light.
Then there are those who believe what they intuitively feel, stretching to reach for the unique signs of expected outcomes and confident that they will come. They represent those who have been touched by the Great Mystery in some way. Their hearts have opened. They’ve loved and been loved. They’ve trusted and learned to be trustworthy. They’ve developed compassion by tending the feelings of others, as well as their own. They’ve felt the deep sinews of life beneath the skin of their living. They don’t know all the answers, but they aren’t afraid of the questions. And when things get tough, they’re among the first to understand these words, supposedly scrawled on the wall in a Jewish hiding place during the Holocaust, and they are comforted:
“I believe in the sun even when it isn’t shining,
I believe in love even when I cannot feel it,
I believe in God even when He is silent”.
When all this political misbehavior rights itself in a shifting, growing surge toward Aquarian principles — and I have every expectation that it will — it will be that last group that birthed the baby. In a time of conflict and confusion, marked by the big outer planetary energies like Jupiter and Saturn, Pluto, Uranus and Neptune, activated again and again by quickly moving personal planets, it’s easy enough to lose track of who, what and where but when we keep faith with what we believe, bolstered by the ancient, irrefutable data that we have stored in every cell, the outcome is sure. Believing WILL be seeing. For today, then, we can take comfort in the many signs of growing awareness and renewed faith in the process of evolution.