July 16, 2003
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Above an Atlas by Carlos Solórzano Smith
| | Heart to Heart Resuscitation
By Ram Dass
It's evident that we are living in interesting times, and I think we're feeling that we understand better every day why that was considered a curse by the ancient Chinese. We're getting hit from every direction. Everything is shaky: social structures, political structures, economic crises, ecological crises -- all of it changing, all destabilizing at once. In the presence of human unconsciousness, what is generated by all that change and instability is fear. People get frightened, and when they get frightened, they use certain mechanisms for coping with it. They go into denial -- "Global warming is not really happening." They look for a talisman to ward off the evil, like holding up a cross against a vampire, so they become fundamentalists or they become ultra nationalists. There's more ethnic prejudice, more racial prejudice.
It's not just in the U.S. -- It's a worldwide thing. Everybody's scared. The poor are scared of the rich, and the rich are scared of the poor. Let me share this little sequence of events with you: About 10 years ago, I spent some time in Guatemala doing work with the Seva Foundation. I was working with the Guatemalan women, women who had lost everything -- their homes, their villages, their husbands, their sons -- to the armies of the Guatemalan government (which was, incidentally, being kept in power by the U.S.). The women were living in constant fear that the armies would come back and kill more of them and drive them off their land; they lived with that fear all the time.
I left Guatemala and flew to Los Angeles. I had a gig in Hollywood, and I was staying in Brentwood, which is a very fancy suburb of Hollywood, where the rich live. I drove down this street in Brentwood, this quiet avenue. In fact, it was too quiet; I realized there were no human beings anywhere in sight. There were little plots of well-tended grass alongside the street, and next to that, big walls and electronic gates, so all you saw from the street was a row of high walls. And on each little plot of grass in front of the wall was a sign that the security company had installed -- a very vivid sign, with big black letters on a red background, saying, "ARMED RESPONSE!" Just think about that, I mean, here you are, you've finally made it, you've got it all -- and you have to hide behind a big gate.
It was a strange flip. I'd been in Guatemala, where the poor women were scared that the army, in the service of the rich, was going to come and murder them; and I'd flown to a place where the rich were hiding behind their walls, afraid that the poor were going to come and murder them.
Gross economic disparity is a profoundly destabilizing force in the world. It's been called the "North-South Issue," because so many countries of the Northern Hemisphere are "haves," and so many of those in the Southern Hemisphere are "have-nots." And it's only getting worse. The disparity between the rich and the poor is growing, and in the meantime we're taunting people with all the things they see on TV, with all the things they've been carefully trained as consumers to want, while at the same time we're giving them fewer and fewer opportunities to break out of their circumstances, to break out of racial or economic suppression. It's a recipe for destabilizing things.
Now the interesting question is, "How could a society that is experiencing the pain we're in not be looking for solutions? How could it not want to do that?" The problem is, when there is worldly power, then there is also a vested interest in preserving that power, in not upsetting the apple cart. So instead of a search for solutions, we see more massive levels of denial. Nobody's willing to bite the bullet and propose real solutions, because it might mean we'd have to give up something we enjoy, and we don't quite want to do that.
But try though we might to wish them away, we see the changes happening, we watch the fear being created, and we can't hide from it all. In the face of all that, the question we need to ask ourselves is whether there is any place we can stand in ourselves where we can look at all that's happening around us without freaking out, where we can be quiet enough to hear our predicament, and where we can begin to find ways of acting that are at least not contributing to further destabilization. I think that's a fair request.
That place, that new perspective is what I call the "soul-view." Let me share with you this little model I've worked out about who we are as human beings. I call it the "Three-Plane Consciousness Model." If I were to take a picture of who I see you to be, the picture would show three "I's" -- three different levels of who you are, planes on which you have an identity.
Number One is what I call ego, that's the "I" we all know very well, the plane of the body, mind, and personality, of all those things we think we are. Number Two I call the soul; the soul measures time not in days and years but in incarnations, and it's the "I" that was around before we as egos were born and that will be around after we as egos die. And Number Three is...just Number Three. We all have different names for it, and wars are fought over what to call it, so I avoid all that by just calling it Number Three.
I see our task as learning to live on more than one of those planes simultaneously, experiencing ourselves as egos and souls at the same time. And since "you gotta be one to see one," once we are resting in our souls, then we will see others as souls as well. Then when we look into another person's we'll say, "Are you in there? I'm in here. Far out!"
When we are able to look behind even that identity as soul, we'll see that we have still another identity because we are also Number Three. That's the mystic "I," because in Number Three there's actually only one of us. Your Number Three isn't merely like my Number Three -- They're the same thing. "Sub ck," my guru used to say; "It's all one."
When we are creating social action out of that kind of consciousness, it's coming from a totally different space, a different motivation, than when it's coming out of our egos with all their conflicting wants and needs. Now it's no longer, "I will relieve your suffering," because it's all just our suffering. If my right hand is in the fire, my left hand just naturally pulls it out. It goes beyond empathy -- it's the experience of oneness. It's a different consciousness.
That change in consciousness is what the world needs. I believe that the basic institution for social change is the individual human heart and that we change hearts one by one through a process I call "heart-to-heart resuscitation." My guru, Neem Karoli, gave me heart-to-heart resuscitation; he awakened my heart; he kindled that love in me. Larry Brilliant, a guru-brother of mine said, "What astounded me when I was around Maharajji wasn't that he loved everybody. After all, he was a saint, and saints are supposed to love everybody: What astounded me was that when I was around Maharajji, I loved everybody." It's the kind of love that's contagious -- It's passed from heart to heart to heart, from soul to soul to soul.
And it encompasses everybody. I know -- there are certain people around whom it's very hard to keep your heart open. You probably have your own list; I know I have mine. Nowadays one of the names on my list is Dubya. I find it very hard to keep my heart open to him, to remember that he's a soul, too. So here's what I do: I have a Puja table, a little alter, in my home. I take a picture of somebody like Dubya, and I put it on my Puja table. So I have a picture of Christ, and a picture of Buddha, and a picture of my guru -- and a picture of Dubya. In the morning I light my candle, and I light my incense, and I greet everybody -- "Good morning Christ, "and Good Morning Buddha, "and "Good morning Maharajji" -- all so sweet and loving -- and then, "Hello, Dubya." I see how far I have to go in keeping my heart open.
If our actions are to be truly compassionate, that's the kind of change in consciousness that's required. If our actions are truly to lessen suffering in the world, and not just shift it around a little, they have to come from the deepest quietest spaces of our hearts. Acting from that deep consciousness is the most profound social change possible, and it's a change that each one of us, individually, can make. Peace isn't something "out there." Peace comes from within and then spreads out into the world. The greatest social action we can accomplish is to dig deep into our hearts until we find that new consciousness, that place of peace. That's the antidote to terrorism, because as Christ said, "Perfect love casteth out fear" (1 John 4:18).
Among many other projects, Ram Dass co-created the Seva Foundation, working with doctors and activists in India, Nepal, Guatemala and here in the US. He has worked with business people in the Social Venture Network, and with Creating Our Future, a spiritually questing organization for teenagers, among many other causes. The common theme in all of these projects has been the application of spiritual principles to social realities.
July 15, 2003 - posted Monday just after 9 p.m. Revised Tuesday at 3:15 a.m.
If only people who got their news from the Internet voted, Bush's ass would be grass. A new MSNBC survey conducted July 14 suggests that Bush's approval rating might be substantially lower than what is appearing in a prominent magazine, Newsweek.
An official poll conducted by the newsmagazine July 10-11 reported that the White House occupant's overall approval rating was 55% lately, even amidst news of his false claims about Iraqi uranium deals while he was selling the public his war plan.
But an interactive survey asking the same questions conducted by MSNBC, one of the Net's premier news portals and an affiliate of Newsweek, showed that the rating was just 22%, with more than three-quarters of those responding saying that they didn't approve of how Bush was handling his job.
Asked how they felt he was handling the situation in Iraq, just 20% said they approved, as compared to 53% who were asked the same question by Newsweek.
According to the current fuss being made by Major Media, Bush's approval rating has declined substantially in postwar months, which is big news this week following the recent disclosure by the White House that maybe Bush should not have used the uranium claim in the State of the Union address, which apparently administration officials knew was false. [Bush today, however, contradicted this, saying that that the statement in his speech was based on "darn good" intelligence, MSNBC reported.]
In each of seven categories in which opinions about Bush's approval were provided by 32,551 MSNBC readers, by about 7:30 p.m. PDT on Monday evening, MSNBC readers disapproved by a two-to-one margin of his conduct in office. This is 32 times more people than were surveyed by Newsweek, pollsters for which apparently only asked the questions of about 1,017 adults over the age of 18. Using tiny samples is traditional in official polling methods.
Asked in one question how confident they were that the US could establish security and democracy in Iraq, a majority -- 53% -- said they were not confident at all, compared to just 16% answering that way in the Newsweek survey. The Newsweek poll had a plus-or-minus 3% margin of error, meaning the real results could have varied by that much in either direction. The MSNBC interactive poll did not give a margin of error.
This revelation serves to make one a little cynical about so-called scientific polls of tiny populations. While there are a number of ways to explain the differentials between the two surveys (for example, people under 18 responding to an online poll, whereas only adults are traditinally polled in official public surveys) they don't account for the rather staggering differences in opinion between the two groups who responded.
Since Newsweek and MSNBC cross-promote, they might be expected to have similar readership demographics. However, since the scientific poll surveyed only about a thousand people, maybe it was done five times and only the most desirable results were used.
But assuming it was done honestly, one possibility for the huge disparity between those who get information online -- all the MSNBC responses were garnered on the 'Net, and those who get it from other sources, may simply be that they are more informed -- a potentially huge bias. Many people ask "who are those 1,017 people reached by the scientific pollster?" The simple answer is people who answered their phone, as opposed to the 32,551 who responded someplace they deliberately went to seek information (a web news page) -- and then took the further step of pointing their cursor to buttons, reading questions, pausing momenarily to reflect on the answer, making a decision, deliberately squeezing the mouse after each one, and intentionally clicking "submit."
As distinctions go in the world, this is a real one. Still, 16% versus 53% on an important issue is a gosh darned big difference. Those boys have some splanin' to do. Maybe in the spirit of honesty they should say that 53% of cluless people feel that we're going to have a great democracy in Iraq, versus only 16% of those with a slight clue.
MSNBC results and Newsweek results.
July 14, 2003
Happy Bastille Day.
It's time I stopped holding out and shared this piece of artwork with you. Meet the Deception Dollar. I saw it for the first time at the Seattle Indymedia Center when I was there for an art opening and for some strange reason didn't pick it up. Then a friend handed it to me a few weeks later.
Well, well, I thought: what a way to sum it all up. No doubt there are quite a few people who will say that this is an overstatement, but that's today. With a little hindsight, it will be very obvious that we have lived from one deception to the next for quite a while, and my sense is that the opening salvo in the most recent war of lies was the attempted impeachment of Bill Clinton.
Then came the presidential erection of 2000, in which an unqualified but well-connected candidate who (as Michael Moore so astutely points out) lost both the popular vote and the electoral vote (by cheating in Florida numerous ways) became president. Then just eight short months, just 40 short weeks later, the World Trade Center, conveniently, is in flames and suddenly anything at all goes: Patriot Act, the alert system (with its red alert provision for martial law), the endless war on anyone and anything, a vast budget deficit, hiring John Poindexter, the convicted Iran-Contra felon, to spy on the Internet.
Shit, Bush wanted Henry Kissinger, a war criminal on the scale of any top member of the Third Reich, to head the 9-Eleven investigation commission, which the White House is still brutally stonewalling. Kissinger quit rather than divulge his client list.
We are (in a rare moment) now witnessing a little of what happens when you pull a loose thread on the boss's suit. It's certainly possible to think that a big deal is being made about the "sixteen words" of blatant lies about Iraq seeking uranium from Niger for its alleged, nonexistent nuclear weapons program, which uranium was "documented" in a forged letter typed on letterhead of a government that had been defunct a decade.
Our media only knows how to make a "big deal" out of a "little thing" rather than present a complex story in depth -- a presentation, for example, of the vast network of lies told leading into the Iraq war is surely in order at this point. But if you're waiting for that, don't hold your breath. Perhaps just survey the web pages we've collected to the left, scrolling down, under the Political Waves section of links (in yellow).
Mark my words: Bush was not lying when he said we'd be in Iraq for a while (Tommy Franks last weeks said it could be as long as four years). As far as I can tell, we're never leaving. Heck, what's the rush? We've been bombing for 12 years. Now we have 148,000 troops stationed there permanently, soaking in depleted uranium. Make the pie higher!
Meanwhile, if you're looking for a hot little activist art piece (shown here about actual size, though at lower resolution than the original) that you can leave everywhere, you can get it from DeceptionDollar.com. It's even cheap -- 1,000 are just $52 (go in with some friends) and you can order small quantities too. For an enlarged view of the artwork, I've put larger .jpgs here. For dialup users this may be a somewhat slow download, up to a minute or so. Oh, and I don't know the people who made it, I have no idea who they are, I just like their work.
History quiz: What was the Reichstag fire?
July 12, 2003
Capricorn Full Moon (astro report) | The Emperor's Moon (essay)
I recently posted an article to the homepage called The Politics of Consciousness (now available with the monthly update under What's New). I thought the piece was an excellent essay into the strange legal and social concepts whereby legislatures and courts can determine what people feel and think by regulating certain substances as illegal drugs. This is done (at an expense of billions of dollars to we, the taxpayers, for which we see no actual results) while at the same time determining that certain other substances are perfectly legitimate drugs and selling them by the train car load for huge profits. Oh yes, and all while we, the taxpayers pay for them via various state and federal medical programs.
After the piece posted, I initiated a discussion among some of my colleagues on the issue of presenting another side of the issue. Not the "say no" side, which few people bother with anyway because it's so stupid (marijuana is not associated with terrorism, for example, but I do hope to see that commercial some day when I need a good laugh), but rather the responsible, informed use side of the issue. I think that's only fair and in the interest of good journalism, particularly on an issue that is ultimately far more personal than it is political. Using chemical substances is a kind of divine right in our culture; irrespective of what the law says, most people do just what they want, when they want. The only thing that stands between what you might call right action and wrong action is awareness. Certainly, the article by Jennifer Wilks Christian adds to the awareness side of the discussion.
I also feel it's important to open the discussion up to several complex issues not covered in the piece: issues of appropriateness of time, time in one's life, physical condition, psychic constitution, and -- truly -- side effects. Drugs change our minds, but they also change our body chemistry. This is a scientific fact, to the extent that such matters. There are addiction issues to consider, with which so many of us have wrestled. There are bad trips to consider. There are horrifying trips. There is the cycle, and I think anyone who has experimented will acknowledge this, where at times the mind-expanding property of a substance fades, and the use of the substance interferes with the process of clarity and consciousness rather than enhancing it.
In very fearful times (and at any time, really, but especially when fear is coursing through the atmosphere like energized plasma gas) there is the issue of paranoia. If, for example, the substances are illegal and attaining certain states of mind represents a transgression against a great abstract power that can materialize, come in and take your body like a huge bird might, that fear can manifest somehow, and it would need to be addressed. There is the issue of legality. Whether drugs are right or wrong set aside, laws are very often applied hypocritically. It's possible, by happenstance, carelessness or some other factor, to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Another point is spiritual.
If using certain substances is considered to be shamanic experience, there are in actual fact points of initiation beyond which it's not sensible or safe for a neophyte to go. There is a need for a guide or teacher to lead the initiations. There is the question of readiness for experience. There are strange things that happen, like opening the door to long-repressed traumas that might emerge and no one, not the tripper or his or her friends, will remotely understand. Not unless someone who is very intuitive, a natural healer or who just happens to understand just happens to be there, but that does not address the effects of what might unfold or emerge over the next 10 years.
We really need to consider these things. The very problem with the "government's" argument on this issue is that it pretends to be the only argument there is, serving largely to convince the ignorant, not those whose consciousness can in fact branch out and embrace the whole issue -- which is precisely what entheogens (substances that expand consciousness) are going to offer you straight away, though it can be a shocking awakening.
I am sure that many people who visit this web site could describe a variety of experiences with a wide variety of substances, some of which they would have preferred not to have gone through. And some, even many, that changed their lives for the better.
There's a web site called The Vaults of Erowid that is written by extremely experienced people who present a variety of issues with each substance, never taking a "say no" or patriarchal approach, rather, the approach of peers sharing information with other peers.
Since this is the first time this issue has been taken up by Planet Waves, I would like to know what you think. Please email me.
The moon is full. Please pay attention. Have a safe and sane weekend.
July 11, 2003
I need a little break from reality, so here is a Blog. I've been having a rather alarming experience these days, and I wanted to share it. About a week ago, early on the morning of a rather positive Big Day in my business history, I awoke from a dream instructing me to immediately acquire a copy of a book called The Powers that Be by David Halberstam and read the thing forthwith.
This is my idea of good information; it took me five days to put my hands on a copy, and I had dug into it in the coffee shop of a real Barnes & Noble over on the mainland, semi-ignoring some friends who met me there as we all got looped on caffeine. The Powers that Be is the history of CBS, Time-Life, The Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. It starts with Roosevelt's discovery of radio as a way to communicate with, or rather broadcast into the homes of, the citizens of our great nation. He was the first great radio personality, indeed, the first radio personality ever.
It was downhill from there. The Powers that Be chronicles the use of the mass media as a propaganda tool. Now, I've been writing serious media criticism since I was in my 20s, since 1990. My first business project had active contact with Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. Later I wrote for the positively amazing (now retired) Lies of our Times on three occasions, projects I treasure to this day. I'm not ignorant of these kinds of issues -- but this book is straightening my hair and rearranging my construction of realty simultaneously. Halberstam is on the story. His research must fill a quadruple-wide trailer. I'm really glad this book is nearly 800 pages thick and that I'm a slow reader.
I have long thought certain media outlets were biased and systematically filtered out one side of the story. I've noticed, since being in this business, that they seemed to be playing a game with reality, twisting issues, distorting facts and even outright lying. I am now learning, from a copiously documented, extremely personal standpoint, just how this came to be. Time, for instance, was designed from the ground up as a partisan Republican instrument. It dealt not in anything vaguely resembling objective facts, or both sides of the story, but rather in the opinions of Harry Luce, its publisher and, worse, his rather warped notions of how the world should be: anti-Communist, conservative, Republican and hunky-dory. He was planning for the Cold War before the Hot War was over.
These ideas proved to be so powerful, and were presented to the public so fearfully and with such artful rhetoric, that Time had a key role -- probably the key role -- in shaping the United States in the second half of the 20th century. And they established a method of media politics, of the media being bigger and more important than government, and being the instrument of corporate industrialists, that is precisely why we are living in a cloud of lies, chaos, violence and criminal misconduct of our public officials today.
Long before, the Los Angeles Times was playing these same games but, believe it or not, and it's hard to believe, given what an absurd, vicious rag it started as and persisted as for generations, shaped the careers of (for example) Richard Nixon, pushing him into state leadership that became the platform for his disgraced presidency. Meanwhile, stealing water from other cities, getting in on real estate speculation in the LA suburbs just prior to the big growth boom, banishing unions and public transportation, all in organized crime fashion that would make any Mafioso envious. (The LA Times seems to be a lot better newspaper today, praise the Gods, but it took more than a century to get it there.)
I'll tell some more of the stories Halberstam relates in future editions. Meanwhile, I plan to learn a thing or two from these robber-barons and keep helping talented young writers become potent, mature, progressive and most of all published writers any way I can -- a process I've taken pleasure in for many years. May their success far exceed my own.
July 10, 2003
Hey all, I'm in the steep part of my writing curve these days, preparing the August monthly materials and the weekly newsletter's horoscope and essay (in between days of working with clients). So I've been distracted from the daily. I just received this in a post from the Political Waves list and thought I'd share it with you. In Seattle we have a very cool congressional representative; this is a little missive he wrote recently. Thanks for tuning in.
The Bush administration's dangerous
manufacturing of post-9-11 dread
By Jim McDermott
Long before I was elected to Congress, I served as a U.S. Navy Medical Corps psychiatrist at the Long Beach Naval Station, home of the 7th Fleet. I treated the walking wounded of the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1970. Our brave troops, who endured lies from our leaders in addition to the usual horrors of war, suffered from fear, anger, sleep disorders and depression, among other things. These symptoms came to be known as post-traumatic stress disorder.
On September 11, Americans suffered a horrible trauma, and we still suffer from the psychological fallout of the terrorist attacks. The administration's calculated campaign to raise and maintain fear and anxiety in America has been an effective tool in prolonging the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by 9-11. As the Bush administration builds its military presence in the Middle East, it is upping the psychological ante here at home.
The deputies of the Bush Terror Posse -- Donald Rumsfeld, Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft -- are conducting a deliberate campaign to frighten us. One facet of the campaign has, over the last 18 months, persuaded large portions of the population to rush to the stores for water, food, plastic sheeting and, of course, duct tape. The threats of impending danger are on record for the future, the administration seems to be saying. When something happens, you won't be able to say we didn't warn you.
This is just the latest and most egregious step in a fear campaign designed to prepare Americans to do whatever the administration wants us to do.
Here's how it works: Throw a hundred claims against the wall and poll every night to see what sticks. Leak stories that are later discredited. Get a graduate student's dissertation and plagiarize it. Lift paragraphs from a war-industry magazine. Every so often, raise the danger level to code "yellow" or "orange." Give the people a rest. Then start all over again. Mix it all up and put an official seal on it. Now it seems true, despite the skepticism of intelligence professionals.
We have been inundated with fables, lies and half-truths. Remember the 33 pounds of "weapons-grade uranium" being smuggled in a taxi from Turkey to Iraq? A few days later, it turned out to be about 3 ounces of nonradioactive metal. And then there is smallpox: The administration is encouraging vaccinations, but it's only in parentheses that it adds that there is "no imminent threat" of a smallpox attack. There is no clear reason for this focus on smallpox, except to ratchet up the level of anxiety.
Our leaders have worked hard to keep the anxiety level up so that the public will forget about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda (who were they again?). Instead, in Iraq, we focused on an impaired dictator of a country with a deteriorated infrastructure and a destroyed economy.
This kind of tactic was described by Hermann Goering, who said at the Nuremberg trials, "The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
What are the next steps? Let's look to history for a clue.
In 1941 we rounded up Japanese Americans and sent them to internment camps. Then we offered them the opportunity to volunteer for the armed services where, because of their valor, the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team became the most decorated combat units in World War II. We have since paid a price in shame for indefensible actions our government took against these citizens out of suspicion and manufactured fear.
And now? The Bush Terror Posse already has required 18-to-45-year-old noncitizen males from Arab and predominantly Muslim countries to register with the U.S. government. If another terrorist attack should occur, don't be surprised if Bush and Co. issue orders to round up these men and intern them. Details leaked about the proposed Patriot Act II do nothing to reassure us about the future of civil liberties for our citizens, much less for legal aliens who live here.
I'm not sure how much more of this our country can take. Memories of conversations with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder haunt me. I know I'm not alone: I've talked with other veterans who have had recent flare-ups. The nightmares are coming back.
Lately, I think often of FDR's admonition, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Americans may have nothing to fear but the fearmongers themselves. ++
Political Waves is the Planet Waves all-politics distribution list. It's free. Expect from three to six well-chosen posts daily. Forward them to your friends, the'll be convinced you're really well-informed. If you'd like to subscribe, use this link. Or just read The Onion.
July 7, 2003
The word is out that Bush knew and that Bush lied, but that's a little like saying a mouse got loose in the Bronx. On July 4th, newspapers around the country carried the message that, in the words of a U.S. high commander, the war in Iraq is not over. We won; we were victorious; we toppled the dictator; but it's just the beginning. Yet we all knew that, right?
Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia delivered another of his truly impressive presentations to his colleagues on the state of national politics on June 24:
We hear some voices say, but why should we care? After all, the United States won the war, didn't it? Saddam Hussein is no more; he is either dead or on the run. What does it matter if reality does not reveal the same grim picture that was so carefully painted before the war? So what if the menacing characterizations that conjured up visions of mushroom clouds and American cities threatened with deadly germs and chemicals were overdone? So what?
Mr. President, our sons and daughters who serve in uniform answered a call to duty. They were sent to the hot sands of the Middle East to fight in a war that has already cost the lives of 194 Americans, thousands of innocent civilians, and unknown numbers of Iraqi soldiers. Our troops are still at risk. Hardly a day goes by that there is not another attack on the troops who are trying to restore order to a country teetering on the brink of anarchy. When are they coming home?
Byrd has taken up one of the newest sports in anti-Bush politics, which is cataloguing the lies. They are showing up places like the Toronto Globe and Mail and Salon. There was a 9/11 cover-up. I can't log onto the Internet without getting some news, whether from one of the many political mailing lists I'm on (including the excellent Political Waves list) or by happening across a progressive web page. To me, it seems like everyone must know. But I'm continuing my boycott of commercial and cable television, so I really don't have a sense of what most other people are getting jammed into their minds.
The question is, will it matter?
Will history repeat itself and Bush get dumped in the next election, suffering the same fate as his father? Will history repeat itself and Bush win by a landslide despite the well-known presence of a major scandal, as did Nixon, then pay the piper a few years down the road?
A deeper question is, to what extent do people who are being lied to have a responsibility to not believe those lies? If you've ever attempted to convince people of something you know, that they don't know, and they don't want to believe, you know it's a hard job. The social conditioning to believe anything that appears on commercial television is profound. Culturally, we live the reality that if it doesn't appear on "the news" then it's not real.
It turns out that most of the other reality is being spread on the Internet. Admittedly, it's mostly spreading on the Internet's back streets, and is being discussed on its proverbial cafés and boutique shops, but the Internet is, at this point, the conducting medium of the truth. It's always difficult for a new medium to establish its credibility in the public consciousness, and part of the complication is that currently there are two different 'nets, ones which remind you of MSNBC and the onces which don't.
It's sure going to be interesting to see what pans out of the mud.
We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men...who feared...to defend causes which were unpopular...The actions of the junior senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay...and whose fault is that? Not really his; he didn't create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it, and rather successfully. Cassius was right, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves." -- Edward R. Murrow
July 4th Weekend: A Tale of Three USAs
Doesn't it often seem like there are two versions of the United States? One is the country where, in her main port, is a statue inscribed with an invitation to the tired, huddled masses to seek shelter and relief. The other is the land of Rodney King and other recipients of bigotry and hatred that characterize our national culture.
One is the land of Martin Luther King and the other is the land of the Klan and King's assassins, and the police who turned mean dogs loose on him and his fellow civil rights marchers dressed in their Sunday finest in Selma, Alabama. One is the land of opportunity, freedom and justice, and the other is the country where the poor are systematically shut out of the economic and political process, where children starve needlessly, and where millions of African-American men sit in prison cells for possession of the same cocaine that is sniffed and traded regularly in the corporate and political halls of power. One is the land of equality. The other is the land of gross hypocrisy.
One is the nation that brings freedom to the oppressed people of the world. The other is the one that deceptively and brutally bombs foreign cultures for profit, sponsors death squads in East Timor and Central America, and hides Nazi officers in South America.
One might speculate that this split personality hinted at in the astrology of the United States.
If you scan the whole business of the USA's charts on Lois Rodden's Astrodatabank, you will likely get a good headache. Send an SASE to Planet Waves for some aspirin, and then check this link. This deck of charts offers not just a moment of true chaos, but also the lesson that becoming a country is a process. It's not exactly like being born. But hey, becoming a person is a process. it also demonstrates that astrology is not an exact science. It's an art, a craft and an inexact science. Just like history.
We presume unquestioningly that the United States of America was born as a nation on July 4, 1776, one of many dubious facts along the foggy ruins of time. Visions of Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson skipping through the streets of Philadelphia that day with a fife and drum, as bottle rockets pop over their heads, still haunt my mind from the Bicentennial celebration, along with the red, white and blue fire hydrants of my childhood neighborhood. Oh to be a dog.
July 4th was the birthday of America, but there are only about half dozen speculated times given, and birth time is pretty important in astrology.
One July 4th chart that seems reasonably workable is the first one ever calculated, called the Sibley chart. It's an 18th century document based on statements attributed to Jefferson, John Adams and John Q. Adams, who said they signed the Declaration in the "late afternoon" of the 4th in Jefferson's case, and "late in the day" in the case of both Adams', according to Astrodatabank. This time, more or less, is confirmed by other sources -- such as the marginalia in the Raphael's ephemeris of an astrologer contemporary to the Revolution, a dude named John B. Early. That data is July 4, 1776, Philadelphia, 5:10 p.m. LMT (Local Mean Time).
It's not my favorite USA chart -- I'll get to that one in a moment -- but it's a very interesting document, quite in harmony with the themes outlined in the Declaration of Independence signed the day for which it's cast. To my thinking, it has validity merely for being the first chart of its genre. This chart has a Cancer sun, Aquarius moon and Sagittarius rising. We get the image of someone or something (a country, in this case) with emotional sensitivity and a mind-one's-own-business values system, bestowed by the Cancer sun; of an eccentric, easygoing nation with a strong egalitarian spirit, suggested by the Aquarius moon; and a world visionary, or aspirations to be such, suggested by Sagittarius rising.
The USA viewed through this chart is the land of Woody Guthrie -- the land that's your land and my land. It's the nation of Emma Lazerus, whose poem "The New Colossus" is inscribed inside the base of the Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
The Aquarius moon bristles with the rebellion of the moment. I learned reading my own web page that, allegedly and/or apparently, Jefferson and Franklin were not prancing around the streets of Phillie, Mumia's streets, but rather checking their ephemerides. Susie Madrak has reported that a delay allowed the Capricorn moon to become the Aquarius moon, releasing some of the tension of the full moon aspect (the sun, remember, was in Cancer) and putting the moon in a somewhat more, well, an easier sign overall.
The Declaration was a manifesto, a vision statement. It had no binding effect or the force of law. It lists complaints and offers a vision of a better way of doing things. To wit:
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
I think the most interesting thing about the Sibley chart is the presence of something called the Great Attractor rising. The GA is an intergalactic point, not your average hunk of Planet Waves space debris. This point is the location of convergence of a million galaxies, ours among them, at an extremely high rate of speed -- 24 million miles per day. That's how fast we're going, and we're going in the direction of mid-Sagittarius. This point has really interesting psychological dynamics, among them, people really love us, or really hate us. And no matter what, a LOT of people are affected by whatever it is America happens to be. Nobody had a clue about the Great Attractor in the 18th century and it was the first thing I noticed when looking at the chart. It got an official Gee Whiz rating.
Impressive and beautiful chart that this is, it has its political limitations.
The late David Solté, a contemporary scholar of US charts and the national horoscopes of many other countries, said that in his interpretation, the Declaration was a moment when 13 independent colonies decided to act as a united force against a common enemy, but not yet officially declaring themselves one actual nation. That came later, a year later, with the Articles of Confederation. The Articles, unlike the Declaration, had the force and effect of law; they were the basis for running the country until the Constitution was enacted a decade later. David narrowed the time of the signing of the Articles down to about a three-hour window on Nov. 15, 1777, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., then rectified the chart to 12:46 p.m. LMT.
Rectified means the astrologer who developed the chart took some fuzzy data and tuned it up -- in this particular case pretty strong data to start with. For example, unlike the July 4 chart, which has anything from Gemini to Virgo to Sagittarius rising, Scorpionic America, as Solté's chart is called, is solidly in range of Aquarius rising.
The rising sign's ruler, Saturn, is conjunct Mercury in Scorpio. Not exactly Little Miss Sunshine.
This chart also has a Scorpio sun, much more befitting of a nation like America (in reality, not just image) than a Cancer sun. Its agenda is less about making you muffins and, for the long haul, taking on your huddled masses, and more about getting the job done. That's one thing you can almost always count on a strong Scorpio-type for. No offense to Cancarians, but the Scorpio sun (particularly with all that support from Saturn and Mercury) is a little more, well, heavy duty. It's a few shades darker, too. Very nice that it's in the 9th house of this chart, where "the sun rejoiceth," according to William Lilly, one of the old greats. So success is portended, and it's international success (9th house theme) at all those fine Scorpionic themes we could not live without.
Like sex, power, money, death, inheritance, taxes, deep karmic bonds, particularly where agreements involving sex and death are concerned. Scorpio is the sign of the mysteries of birth and death. If that's not America, I don't know what is. Just go to church one Sunday and listen for 10 minutes. Just turn on CNN and listen for 10 seconds.
Then we have that Gemini moon. We get the two major emotional facets phenomenon of that moon; the two sets of needs; and something of a permanent affliction of grief suggested by the conjunction of the moon with the first asteroid Ceres. That moon also suggests we're the "bread basket of the world," but there's also a sad story around the way we treat kids.
Often the transits and progressions reveal how well a chart works. I am particularly fond of something called "secondary progressions," the most common kind used by astrologers. They track the chart a day per year. In other words, your transits for your 44th day of life become your progressions for your 44th year. It's like a scale model of time. And very strange things happen in these scale models.
One thing that happened recently was that Scorpionic America had a new moon by progression, which happens every 29 or so years. But it wasn't just a new moon -- it was an eclipse, and eclipses happen every 175 years. And it happens that one occurred in October 1998. We all remember what was going on then, correct? From the transcript of the United States Senate just 12 weeks later (a very short period of time where progressed events are concerned, and in this case quite exactly suggested):
SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. All persons are commanded to keep silent on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States, Articles of Impeachment Against William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States.
Eclipses suggest radical breaks in continuity. My sense is this was the first shot we heard in the revolution that we thought began in November 2000, or September 2001, the birth of the next New Colossus.
Happy Independence Day. ++
[Lois Rodden is mentioned earlier in this article. Lois, one of the truly brilliant astrolgers of our time, who perfected the art of data collection and data rating, died last month. Here is one obituary, and another.]
Wednesday, July 2, 2003
Well, I've been pretty much speechless at the new edition, with its strong political emphasis and the Options to Hysterectomy project.
Articles editor Steve Fornal has delivered another month of fine writing. We've stuck to a July 4th kind of theme, including two pieces by a writer who's usually too busy preparing legal briefs in constitutional cases to do too much for Planet Waves these days, New York-based civil rights lawyer Steve Bergstein. (He's also written a fair amount of rock criticism for us, including a George Harrison tribute.) This month Steve has offered commentary debunking some myths about America, among them, that the Constitution guarantees freedom. What it guarantees is the freedom for corporations to run the world.
This theme is picked up in an essay by Richard Grossman, a guest writer for Rachel's Health & Environment newsletter, which we reprint here from that excellent series of writing, which can be explored in full at Rachel.org. There's a bunch more to keep your mind busy, including a piece on the astrology of America by Susan Madrak.
As for the hysterectomy project, the work of Vision List researchers and writers who contributed original articles, section editor Jeanne Treadway, designer and programmer Jordan Laughlin, and our fact-checker and editorial assistant Pam Purdy, is just excellent. Michelle Waters arrived at the last moment with a tip that she had an archive of womb art just waiting for such a project. The result is a permanent resource that will come up in Google pointing women and the people who love them directly to information that can truly help their health and their happiness. Please pass the link on to any woman you know who is having reproductive health concerns.
It is often said that money makes the world go round, and it does take a little money to run Planet Waves, most of which comes from subscriptions to the weekly newsletter. But it's nothing compared to the awareness, love, experience and spirit of service offered by the collective that's grown up over the past five years that creates the project every month.
Articles editors at Planet Waves serve for three months. This is designed to create a diversity of viewpoints and to train many people in the running of the publication, building up a collective of experienced editors who can work with a variety of writers. Through this process we build experience and confidence and stay out of ruts. Since we started this method last summer, I've actually stepped back and served as publisher, more or less watching the publication function and providing some guidance, but not too much.
For the fourth quarter under this plan, I'll be co-editing with Tracy Delaney of Liverpool, UK. Thank you Steve for your fine work and your really cool graphics -- and your writing, both fiction and nonfiction.
Thanks to the other editors who've lead the way -- Jeanne Treadway and Jenny Singer.
Most of our editors and writers started as readers. Planet Waves is a place you can take a little talent or curiosity and develop it into something more; it's a place where you can explore an interest in politics, art and web design; it's also a place to build community. If you're interested in getting involved, please drop a note to Tracy Delaney. Or you may call the office at (206) 463-7827. One of will contact you shortly.
I haven't forgotten writing a little more about the Lawrence case, in particular highlighting the three dissenting opinions. I've just been takin' care of business the past week or so. The coming newsletter will look at the different birthday charts of the United States, comparing two different ones from 1776 and 1777.
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