The phrase “doom and gloom” is in heavy use these days. As in “I’m so glad to see this front page story about rescued puppies instead of all the usual ‘doom and gloom’ stuff.” But there’s a false equation between the lines here, and we need to be wary of it.
It is this: that to acknowledge the severity of the global situation is tantamount to harboring a perverse fascination with negativity.
To imply as much degrades social discourse in the best of times and is downright perilous in times like these, when we need more than ever to face what’s going on. To dismiss reality is to fall into the shadow of Neptune, a particular pitfall of this calendar year.
The news is alarming, but that does not make those who report it alarmists. When a chronicler of global warming is called a “Chicken Little,” it’s likely that his accuser is exemplifying that other foolish bird — the ostrich with its head in the sand. There’s a difference between being pessimistic and conveying information people don’t want to hear.
The blurring of this distinction is often willful, as when politicians deride ideas that might interfere with their income stream or that of their constituents. Congresspersons from tobacco-growing states were paid to mock and minimize damning reports about carcinogens in cigarettes, and did so for decades. Big Coal’s representatives in the legislature do everything they can to belittle the public health advocates and environmentalists who play the role of canaries in the industry’s collective mine.
An early version of this tactic that now seems so baldly mendacious as to be almost laughable was Big Auto’s attempt – successful for years – to bury the proposal to equip cars with seat belts. Detroit was afraid the presence of seat belts would remind people how dangerous driving was.
I thought of this when the news came out last week that the National Highway Transportation Administration had suppressed research that suggested drivers who talk on cell phones are four times as likely to crash as other drivers. The statisticians found that hands-free devices did little to reduce the hazard; the real issue was the distraction. Duh, right? But the report was suppressed, and one suspects Big Cellular had a hand in it.
When efforts to censor such studies don’t work and the truth leaks out, what happens next is so predictable it has become a truism of modern business practice: the Big guys issue a flurry of press releases ridiculing the study, and the pundits and politicians who work for them smear the whistle-blower.
Unscrupulous politicians and the agencies that back them have a vested interest in keeping us childlike. Their campaigns of diversion from the matters at hand resemble what we do with children who are not mature enough to handle disturbing realities. This is what journalist David Kipen has called the scoot-over-and-leave-the-driving-to-Daddy approach to leadership.
As a collective, we keep ourselves in arrested development when we defer to cartels of Daddy figures. And when these cartels are corrupt, to boot, such deference undercuts the cosmic lessons humanity is supposed to be learning.
During distressing times, too many people seem to forget everything experience has taught them about politicians and plutocrats. Suspending disbelief, they blindly put their trust in the guy in the expensive suit up there at the podium, who’s saying all the right things and sounding so authoritative. Our inner child yearns for this person to protect us.
But there is an equally strong impulse in the collective inner child to rebel.
The parent-vs.-independent-child pattern is represented astrologically by the Saturn-Uranus opposition, which will reach its next exactitude on September 15th. Saturn represents the controlling Dad in this dynamic; Uranus is the adolescent, bristling with free will. There is a natural tug-of-war between these two archetypes, and it is being exacerbated right now by the geometrical tension between the two planets in the sky.
Opposition aspects turn to breakthroughs in the presence of consciousness. The first step in breaking through the collective parent-child projection is to concede that there’s a lot of pressure on people right now to play the child. It’s only human to feel vulnerable when the world is in turmoil. But the magic starts when we admit to this vulnerability: it is then, paradoxically, that we start to free ourselves of it. Once out of denial, we are able to think realistically about what we need. In this state we see through the ploys of those interests that do not have our welfare in mind.
The creative use of transits like these begins with ruthless self-honesty tempered with self-forgiveness, and ends in freedom.