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Oh Say Can You See

Oh Say Can You See

artwork by Gregory Gantner & Gabriel Karagianis

The Cardinal square was rattling with Full Moon energy this fourth of July. Mars had just entered Libra, hitting the Midheaven of the Sibly chart of the USA. Throughout July, Mars will trine Jupiter in Gemini. There’s nothing subtle about this energy. Like the  flashy grin on a politician, the public face of this big sprawling country is on brash display.

Like the eleventh of September, the July 4th holiday (which they both literally are: holy days of nation-statehood) sums up the bizarre mismatch between ideals and reality that most Americans find themselves negotiating in this unsteadiest of eras.

The US public is notoriously unwise about the food it consumes (the percentage of us who are overweight has risen to an astounding 2/3), and every bit as unwise about the morbidly low-grade information we consume. On Independence Day, Americans filled their ears with sentiment, the emotional equivalent of soda pop, and patriotic humbug, the intellectual equivalent of hot dogs.  Like the wiener whose rosy pink casing hides ingredients too hideous to think about, the innocuous platitudes filling the airwaves on the Fourth of July conceal ingredients that are morally hideous, but which we must think about, if we are going to be true to ourselves and to this moment in history.

The speeches are as traditional as steaks on the grill. Politicians go moist-eyed on cue, and hold forth in gaseous generalities about democracy and the founding fathers, this country’s secular saints. The commercials on TV, shot in fuzzy focus, enhanced with schmaltzy music and American flags, sell family values along with cars and insurance policies. Between the pols and the ad men, audiences are hit with both arms of corporate culture: the elected officials who are bankrolled by big business, and the Madison Avenue pros who tell the stories big business wants told.

The fact that such imagery has become normal fare for the holiday and the election season doesn’t mean that we should let down our guard against it. The fact that it commands huge audiences doesn’t mean that partaking of it is good for us. Like sugary icing laid on so thick you can’t taste the stale cake underneath, the grotesque lies told by candidates trolling for votes and the polished lies told by Madison Avenue are bad for our health. They are bad for the mind, heart and spirit.

All who witness these displays may feel like knocking back a chaser afterwards, to dispel the bitter savor of cynicism. Consider the shameless Mr Romney, who was recently captured on camera mouthing a few bars of “America the Beautiful” at a campaign stop. Running on the platform of a successful businessman, Sir Mittford of the smarmy smile and crisp pastel shirts is well-known to have made his billions buying up outsourcing firms. He’s a “job creator”, alright. He created thousands of slave-labor jobs in China.

The US flag is based on the flag of the East India Company, the first modern multinational corporation 

American dreamers who have pledged their allegiance to Obama have their own rancid distaste to dispel. The word “liberty” is splashed around just as liberally by the party who came up with the Homeland Battlefield Bill, which would allow the detention of loosely defined “terrorist supporters” (this could mean you or me, if we invited over to dinner a Muslim friend who was on a government list.) References to “our brave men and women in uniform” are invoked equally fulsomely by the GOP and the current administration, which has incarcerated — under conditions that qualify as torture — whistle-blower Bradley Manning, the US soldier who gave Wikileaks those cables detailing Pentagon war crimes. Politicians on both sides of the aisle, who so unctuously extolled the Constitution just after the Full Moon in July, have been responsible over the past several years for shredding like confetti everything from First Amendment rights to the rule of habeus corpus.

How do we achieve health in a societal environment so skewed and toxic? Certainly not by estranging ourselves from it. On the contrary; we get to the healthy layer of group life by digging deeper into it: digging past its current manifestation to get to its essence.

The corrupt state of affairs we are witnessing in the public realm right now is a distortion of the vision at the heart of our collective. Consider the chart of the USA. When we look beyond the travesties perpetrated by the powers-that-be, we see a noble, idealistic Saturn in Libra (to be transited by Mars the last week of July) trine natal Uranus. This is the source of those oft-cited concepts of freedom, liberty, and individual rights that Independence Day is supposed to celebrate. In their pure form, these archetypes are nothing less than perfect. They would inspire us unconditionally, if we did not identify them with the stories being told by people and agencies who do not deserve our respect.

The misuse of a beautiful energy does not negate its beauty. As the Cross heats up, it will inspire some and confound others. The Mars in Libra aspect (peaking 7/17-19) now setting off the Uranus-Pluto square confers, at its highest, a majestic instinct for fairness and a genuine tilt towards justice. That these values are glimpsed but dimly, and professed insincerely, by so many Fourth-of-July bloviaters should not hold us back from holding tightly to them if they resonate with our ideals. This is, after all, what those brilliant gentlemen did back in the 1770s, to our undying admiration.