Five Stages, Reviewed

There have been many times over the last fourteen years when national atrophy, zealous leadership, and political hijinks pushed reality into the surrealistic zone, creating — in me, at least — a mixed bag of response that Dr. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross would have recognized as the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I have experienced them all and sometimes on the very same day, one after the next ( a.k.a. lather, rinse, repeat.)

Political Blog, News, Information, Astrological Perspective.

By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

Even now, denial and depression occasionally alight like a butterfly, tickling my psyche for just an instant, then flickering quickly away. Bargaining and acceptance linger at the back of my mind, threads of sane and proven technique woven into analysis of any given situation, awaiting assessment. Like time itself, the emotions prompting these states do not always seem to be sequential, and most of them don’t last long in my household except for that second one: anger. Am I pissed? Oh, you bet! As I was writing this, my son checked in to ask if I had my topic yet. I told him I did, it’s “What The Fuck Is Wrong With People???”

In order to enjoy any kind of calm, grace-filled emotional space at the end of the day — clearing our minds of useless information and preparing ourselves to enter a healing, often informative, dreamscape — I think it’s important to feel everything that has presented itself for our attention during the day. Granted, allowing these feelings takes a certain mindfulness, as most of them are as unwelcome as a stream of ants at a picnic. I’m not talking about that moment in the day when we over-react to stimulus, like throwing a shoe at the cat as she digs in a flower pot, but rather a purposeful instance in which we lift some distressing bit of information into focus using balanced intellect and higher mind, defanging it in the process of clarification, and marking it for further investigation and/or activism.

And while I believe in and practice positive thinking and affirmation, I don’t recommend them ‘to a fault,’ screening out all other factors. Avoiding the avalanche of sad, distressing or challenging news we hear on a daily basis often becomes less self-protection than an act of self-sabotage, creating a habit of resistance like a hardened callous, insulating us from reality. And — slowly and surely, event after event — isn’t that how we achieved this version of our increasingly surreal America, to start with?

I know, much of what is happening in the world is dreadful, disturbing the even flow of emotions and events we favor, but in this long-anticipated time of social evolution we can expect no less. Yet even so, with unavoidable change upon us, our human intellect still requires some reason to run toward it, eager to experience something new, or conversely, a visceral response that informs us that the direction we’re moving in only mires us more deeply in what needs renewal. Following up that first impulse, pro or con, with thoughtful investigation and realistic analysis must come right behind — unless it doesn’t, unless we shove it under the rug. I suppose that’s where my WTF rant begins and ends, starting with, “What part of unavoidable do we not understand?”

With one dead and two infected — a total of only three citizens, nationwide, mind you — it’s Ebola 24/7 on television news, and I’m not talking about the irrational (and disturbingly racist) babble that’s going on over at FOX NewsFOX is the channel that proposed those immigrant kids on the bus this summer were carriers of leprosy, TB, cholera and plague, after all. Hardly a stretch to imagine the kinds of things they’re saying about Ebola now. And no surprise that I’m hearing echoes here in the Pea Patch, from seniors who can’t seem to utter the word Ebola without adding something disturbingly ignorant about that black guy in the White House, or others “of his kind.” Those who say racism isn’t at work in the underpinnings of this Ebola scare need to come spend an afternoon with me.

A House panel raking CDC Director Thomas Fieden over the coals this morning took border-closing hysteria to another level. The rationale behind keeping flights and flyers under scrutiny of CDC personnel is designed to prevent the possibility of people using alternate routes to sneak over the borders in search of better healthcare; an administrative choice between some control, no matter how flawed, and none at all. The howlers don’t care, as long as fear works to feed the political machine.

Many of the questions put to the director called for speculation, and Fieden answered truthfully, saying he didn’t know and couldn’t say. This caused a CNN panel to invite viewers to go on Facebook with their response to queries over whether or not Fieden should be fired. WTF? Fire one of the few people who has the international expertise to either understand or manage a deadly viral outbreak? What’s wrong with you, CNN? What kind of thought is THAT to plant in public consciousness?

Makes about as much sense as ‘firing’ experienced career politicians only to replace them with people who do not understand the system they’re charged with working within, or the ramifications of, for instance, refusing to fund the government (the same one we’re all bitching about not responding to the Ebola crisis quickly enough to suit our needs). That kind of behavior has been called, over many decades, “jumping from the frying pan into the fire,” and “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” Amazing, isn’t it, that we’ve been practicing this kind of irrational response so long, we’ve created time-honored idioms to cover it, yet we still do it every chance we get?

The burgeoning bubble of panic finally pushed the White House to name an Ebola Czar to head up the crisis. The man awaiting announcement — Ron Klain, former chief-of-staff to both Biden and Gore — has an excellent reputation in organizing and implementing programs, and should provide some confidence in government response if not become the ‘face’ of that healthcare expertise, as would the reassuring visage of a Surgeon General. That position is still unacted upon, some 18 months late, thanks to the National Rifle Association’s lobbying efforts to silence Obama’s candidate, who considers two million or more yearly emergency room visits for assault (according to the CDC,) the majority involving weapons, a danger to our national health.

In other news, while Pope Francis feels it’s time to open his arms to the queer community, his recent remarks regarding gay folk has apparently created a mushroom cloud over his bishops’ sensibilities, particularly the English speaking ones. When the Pope said that homosexual unions can often constitute a “precious support in the life of the partner,” the Vatican was obliged to issue a ‘new translation’ that mollified the objecting clergy, which now reads ” … valuable support in the life of these persons.” This opens the door for discussion of the church accepting civil unions, as well as making space for homosexual parishioners, although the Pope’s commentary about “welcoming homosexuals” has now been changed to “providing for homosexual persons.”

Those whom the Pope wants to draw in, the bishops choose to distance from, and in order for these latest recommendations to be approved and discussed among dioceses around the world, two-thirds of the bishops must approve them. Me, I’m thinking Pope Frank needs a food-taster. While most of the rational world celebrated his remarks as an example of the Catholic Church catching up with the 21st century, when I told a priest-friend I was worried about Francis, he nodded and said he figured somebody was surely mixing the poison in the back room.

I don’t want to be overly critical here, but what part of “closet cases” do these Vatican princelings think we don’t already know about? Anybody remember “Judge not least you be judged?” Or is that only in the Protestant version of the Bible? Not that Protestants are any less parochial, as witnessed by evangelicals who have joined ‘pro-family’ Catholics in calling the Pope a betraying heretic for his progressive — and dare I say, Christian — leanings. They have accused him of teaching ” … that there are positive and constructive aspects to […] mortal sins.” One group used a word I had not heard before: homoherisy. Did they just make that up? And we thought the Taliban was scary!

A church that is teetering on irrelevance should probably be a little less radical, don’t you think? And there it is, there, at this point in history: to refuse to evolve from the old fundamentalism of an earlier age is a sure sign of radicalism. Those who cannot embrace progress and change are doomed eventually to wither and die. It is simply the way of all living things.

This constant pressure of conservatism that refuses to acknowledge what the majority not only wants, but already lives  — day in, day out — doesn’t just grind away at us, it angers us. Trying to keep one’s intellectual balance while seemingly surrounded by those whose fear and self-loathing threaten to banish those of us who refuse to repress ourselves to the corn field takes a toll.

And if you’re in one of those states where every other television or radio commercial is political, spewing lies about the state of the nation and/or the promises of this or that political figure, your nerves are probably as frayed as mine, so if you go outside and howl at the moon, find yourself breaking dishes rather than washing them, or charring dinner rather than cooking it, know you are not alone. This too shall pass, but — I fear — not without pissing me off.

People want to close the borders to strangers, blame the agencies that are trying to contain this outbreak, and scare the pants off each other, telling tales of pandemic and loss. If this is what we’ve got with one death, what will happen with thirty? The last flu considered a pandemic was H1N1 in 2010, in which there were over a quarter million hospitalizations resulting in over 12,000 deaths. Did we come unglued then? Did we close the borders? Did we blame black folk?

It turns out that the Pope’s ‘compassion’ is a liberal trait, not something to brag about. The church is miffed at its new leader for being too kindly to suit the traditionalists. Every time I think of what the church did in Spain during the Inquisition, I get pissed. When I think of what it did in Ireland during the last century — rent Philomena — I get pissed. When I think of what it’s still doing, cloistered in its exclusive same-sex club, I get really really pissed. Can we see the darkness there, reflected in ourselves? And if we can, then why do we still empower these people?

The conservatives are set to take over both houses of government. We’re just weeks away from losing any ability to stop them from attacking all of the things we’ve managed to accomplish in these last years, not to mention those things we’ve tried to protect. This is — to quote Joe Biden — a big fucking deal. Why aren’t we raising hell about this? It’s just establishment politics so it doesn’t matter what happens next? Really? REALLY?

Feeling dismay, even anger, isn’t the end of the story, of course; it’s just the beginning. Once we have that warning flash, we’ve been given information about something that requires further action of some sort. That’s much of what our plight is about — too many flashes, too few options about how to handle them or what to do next, even if we find the time. So let’s go back to that list of five responses once again, linear as designed: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Those of us on the progressive side of the fence are no longer in denial about what we’re facing. Our challenge is to get those who do not think as we do to face reality while there’s still some hope of remediating our growing problems. Some of us think we can change minds; others of us have simply given up.

The second of the five, anger, comes and goes, so it’s best to learn how to handle it. Anger works as catalyst, focusing our attention, but it isn’t a place to dwell unless we want to physically disintegrate with too much adrenalin, too much toxin. Treat anger as if it’s a pressure cooker, needing a jiggler to allow for escaping hot air. Then jiggle away, as needed, while investigating the cause of the emotional storm (likely leading to unaddressed fears). Unless we explore our anger, it owns us. Better the other way around.

Bargaining is only an issue if we’re bargaining with some other human who can actually affect the situation at hand. Dems can’t bargain with Pubs, for instance, despite the meme that talented political leadership can bring anyone to the table, a fantasy politico’s like to repeat. Those days are gone, memories of them scribbled in the margins of the Pluto/Uranus playbook. Besides, the bargaining Kübler-Ross was speaking of was an exchange of some kind with God when facing our own mortality. That may still play in traditional religious thought, but as our understanding of God has begun to morph, so has our understanding of the alchemical changes within ourselves that are required for bodily healing, as well as intuitive meditations dealing with the concept of death. Bargaining seems to me that place where we come to terms with reality.

Depression? Seems a natural consequence of facing dire circumstances, although I can’t help but think the many pharmaceutical solutions prescribed to relieve anxiety work to our detriment. The amount of drugs taken in this nation to eliminate stress is frightful, and I’d bet my piggy bank that they most often cause as many problems as they solve. Chronic depression, as opposed to circumstantial bouts of depression, is tricky and very often ignored, exacerbated by the environmental toxicity of food, air, water we must all endure thanks to rampant capitalism, poor national foresight, and misunderstanding of both metaphysics and the natural world.

Then there’s that last one: acceptance. Now there’s something to aspire toward. Think of it as sanity. That’s how Eckhart Tolle considers it when he says, “What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to something that already is?” To simply accept where we are now, while vowing to do all we can to change it into something more acceptable to the whole of us requires some self-mastery, and an on-going understanding of the emotions that flood us from moment to moment, demanding our full attention.

For those of us who view the politics of the moment with trembling, let’s remember that we’re poised on an election in a few weeks that hangs on a mere 500,000 votes. That’s what Howard Dean said in a fund-raising e-mail the other day, and I believe him. He’s one of the few politicians I know who doesn’t lie for a living. So much of the next two years depends on this election, it’s fearsome to think about, and yet, when we do, we just shrug our shoulders. Nothing we can do about it, right? Election’s being bought by the highest bidder, with hundreds of millions in play.

But Howard thinks that turning out the vote is the answer, as do many historians who know that mid-terms get too little public attention. And because the races are so tight, Dean believes there’s a possibility to keep the Senate if volunteers will spend some time contacting liberals — likely working women — reminding them just how critical their vote is. His organization, Democracy for America, has set up a phone bank, put together phone lists and training, and has asked for people to commit to a few hours making calls. Since my understanding is that this is not cold-calling, eliminating the likelihood of reaching hostile Republican voters, this doesn’t sound too painful. If you have any interest in this project as the clock ticks down, go to his website and get the particulars.

While the Kübler-Ross model speaks to a process of grief and loss, there are ways to break the hold each of those emotions has on us, but it requires us to DO something. This nation seems to be stuck in morass, lethargic in the face of disaster. Being part of something we believe in relieves much of that internal emotional rollercoaster, releasing us from inertia.

Maybe that’s what’s wrong with people! Maybe they haven’t had enough exposure to being part of something more interesting than just taking care of themselves. When our choice is between self-interest or doing something for the betterment of us all, have we had the experience of feeling like we’re contributing something truly important? Like what we do matters? In order to experience our humanity, we need to do something for others, do something to help. We need to open our arms to things that keep us empowered and in the moment, encouraged and encouraging.

Encouraging others to lend a hand at this important moment in history is the kind of person-to-person experiment that can change everything. That’s the kind of activism that can help dispel anger and depression, that accepts the fluidity of the possibilities and understands that what we bring to the moment changes the outcome.

When we open our hearts in acceptance of one another, when we offer our time and effort in advancement of what blesses all of us, we learn to leave fear behind, replaced by purpose. Perhaps what’s wrong with people is they don’t realize that their only job, here on planet Terra, is to love and be loved, leaving no one out. And maybe that’s the sixth stage that moves us from the grief of dying into the sunlight of living, the one that heals us all.

8 thoughts on “Five Stages, Reviewed

  1. Rebecca

    Thank you, Judith; you have intelligently and honestly expressed everything I feel and have been upset over. I , too, keep asking”What the F is wrong with people?” they allow themselves to be conditioned and remain blind to it. In fact, my daughter and husband keep telling me that I am becoming over reactive and my answer is if we had reacted to the cultural, social, and mainly political actions much earlier, this could have been avoided. Again, thank you for your insight!

  2. Barbara Koehler

    My goddess, it’s been weeks since I had a good belly laugh; thanks for that Jude! This piece of work you have presented us with reminds me of the discovery that all 3 outer planets, Pluto, Uranus, Neptune, were joined by a degree of Aquarius in their most recent entry-into-new-signs charts. Each of them made 2 entries, the 1st being what I like to think of as a survey of the landscape, or what’s the problem here? The 2nd entry then would be a solution to the problem. In each of the 2nd entry charts, Pluto into Capricorn, Uranus into Aries and Neptune into Pisces there was something going on at 11+ Aquarius, the Sabian Symbol (I know you would be looking this up anyway Jude) for which is ON A VAST STAIRCASE STAND PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT TYPES, GRADUATED UPWARD.

    For Pluto, the first of the 3 to enter his new sign, it was the north node conjunct centaur Nessus. The 2nd of the outer planet entries into a new sign was Uranus into Aries and his 11+ Aquarius was Venus. The last outer planet to enter his new sign was Neptune and the 2nd entrance into Pisces gave us Mercury at 11+ Aquarius. For Uranus and Neptune, it was pretty straight-forward, both gave us personal (understandable) planets at 11+ Aquarius, but Pluto. . . . . well, Nessus conjunct the north node is a whole ‘nuther animal.

    For me I guess the “good news” is that those on the Lower Steps are expressing that Plutonian/Nessiun (?) energy and becoming aware of it’s existence within themselves. For those on Higher Steps, like yourself, well, you guys are becoming aware of how many of them are still on the lower steps! Patience is a virtue that doesn’t come easily. That requires lots and lots of Saturn work.

    Poor baby, you have been put in the Pea Patch so your writer buttons (Neptune ingress Pisces with Mercury at 11+ Aquarius) will get pushed. Adding insult to injury, the U.S. Neptune at 22+ Virgo sextiles transiting Eris (button pusher extraordinaire), as does transiting Saturn in Scorpio, and Eris is pushed into pushing buttons whether she wants to or not, being the apex planet of that yod with Saturn sextile U.S. Neptune. “What part of unavoidable do we not understand?” Hmmmm.

    Listen, I totally relate to your reaction to the reactions of the locals and the CNN types; I’m still pumping adrenalin over the stupidity of talking heads wondering why the hell Alison Lundergan Grimes wouldn’t say who she voted for for President; kinda pleading the 5th, you know. Thing is, there are lots of married women, or even single women who don’t want to HAVE to say who they vote for to husbands, family, friends, neighbors, bosses or co-workers for fear of repercussion. Grimes knows that and she stands as a role-model for them.

    As for Pope Francis, (I think the Lord rigged that election) his natal Moon at 12+ Aquarius is veerry close to that 11+ Aquarius mentioned earlier. and his natal Mercury at 11+ Capricorn is where transiting Pluto is now, and it was Pluto’s ingress (entry) chart that had Nessus + NN at 11+ Aquarius. Yeah baby, nasty, nasty stuff coming to the surface from the Catholic establishment.

    I think your explanation of how to handle the anger part of the 5 stages sheds light on what Len talked about. . . Sunday’s pass of the new comet near Mars who is near the Galactic Center; let it catalyze then let it go. In fact, my dear Jude, your whole essay on the Kubler-Ross stages of grief is a perfect partner to the present astrology and the present time.

    I’ll be working for the Grimes for Senator campaign right after the solar eclipse and my family leaves town, making calls (to registered Dems) which I always enjoy. We might lose some chairs to the Pubs in this round of elections, but I’m pretty sure Mitch McConnell won’t be returning. His natal Jupiter at 11+ Gemini is at the apex of the transiting sextile on Election Day between Sun at 11+ Scorpio and Pluto at 11+ Capricorn. That means his Jupiter must “adjust” as in, get out of town idiot! That Election Day Sun also squares the 11+ Aquarius in the 3 ingress charts for Pluto, Uranus, and Neptune. Oh, and did I mention, McConnell’s natal Mercury is at 11+ Aquarius? 🙂

  3. Linda

    Lovely, Jude ‘n’ Be! Oh I know nothing we’re talking about is “lovely” but it all does lay out in nice patterns (of some variation) doesn’t it?

    Transiting Mars finally closed in on natal Saturn at 24Sagg (speaking of Saturn – and of Mars). Very soon thats be a Mars sandwich as transiting M approaches conjunction with transiting Pluto on natal Mars. Well — he won’t quite make it for election day, but I’ll make it to the polls and perhaps one wee vote (there’s that “yop” again) will make some sort of difference.

    These current events have become ironic to me as I study the decline of Rome and politically rigged councils such as the Nicaea. Best we post a kickstarter campaign for that papal taster for Frank, yes?

  4. karliecole

    How about a czar for some issues really impacting people – like the ballooning disorders our kids are getting! Autism, Asthma, Allergies, Learning Disorders, Digestive Disease, Cancer, etc. etc. These are real epidemics and yet almost no real attention is paid at all – it’s every parent for themselves – and in the case of questioning vaccines – it’s parents pitted against one another.

    Perhaps, what’s wrong with people is those of us who are awake – are just too f’ing overwhelmed by trying to keep body and soul together plus pay the frickin bills and deal with the multiplying kids health issues.

    I do concur with your approach to all this Judith. Just acknowledging what I find in my way of doing more to address the major issues. Plus, there’s so much talk about the issues – but so little in the way of tangible action steps to address them or even to easily find others who are working to address the issues to connect with. Hence, I’m try to establish a network / directory that is locally based to gather resources, tangible steps toolkits and to make it easier for those wanting to connect to work on issues to find each other locally.

    Keeping the conversation in the national realm, seems to me to mean, that there is just no actual way I can touch it – so I’m working to bring the action local.

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