Moral Ambiguity

I do not have the stars-and-stripes flapping in the breeze this Spring evening. I don’t have my “We’re Number One” T-shirt on. I’m not giddy with jubilation about my country shooting Osama bin Laden in the face.thumbnail

President Obama claims that “justice was done;” seeming to gloss over the associations the word justice has with charges, public trials, evidence and so on. Does it matter, if we flout international laws by sending killers to off people on foreign soil? Does it matter, if we violate our own Constitution by waging war on Libya without Congressional approval? Apparently, if the cause is popular enough, it doesn’t matter. I guess those Americans who think that what happened in Abbottabad is an example of “what makes America great” took away different ideals from 5th-grade social studies than I did.

The assault occurred at the Dark of the Beltane New Moon, with Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Uranus all in Aries. This stellium bristles with the potential for subterfuge, violence and militarism; but, like every other daunting transit of the Cardinal Cross period, we were given it to learn from. Of course, this is only possible if we open our ears and eyes… not a strong suit of the American public.

I have written elsewhere about the strange events of  September 11th 2001, and will look at it again in an upcoming Skywatch. Most Americans did not ask questions then, and they are not asking questions now. They seem to prefer watching earnest airheads on TV ask questions (and not questions that genuinely seek information; just questions that play gotcha to score political points.) We like to let our pundits do our non-thinking for us.

At first blush the Osama killing seems like a classic American showdown, the kind we could find between the pages of any X-men comic book. But it is highlighting a jarring ethical divide for the US public. Transiting Pluto — the most critical piece of the Longest Arm of the Cross — is approaching exactitude in its opposition to the US Jupiter (ideals), and the group mind is at a crossroads of moral ambiguity. Many people are feeling profoundly disquieted by the shift; others are cleaving blithely to the old simplicities. But my sense is that all of us are experiencing this one in the gut, where we keep our deepest notions of right and wrong.

Neptune, now in its glory in Pisces, is also about ambiguity; which comes in two flavors. There is the reasoned kind of ambiguity, which opens us up to the subtlety of nuanced understanding. Then there’s the blind kind, where we get lost in a fog. We slip into the latter when, for example, we become hypnotized by the media’s engineered version of events.

To resist this, we might notice that those elements of this bloody adventure that are attracting the fewest questions are far more interesting than those being repeated ad nauseum on the news. One example: I found myself wondering about the unnamed women and children who had to watch Osama get shot in the head. One of them was apparently his twelve-year-old daughter (the White House has been changing its story about this child, which ought to make us even more curious).

The  existence of these tragic bystanders parallels the killing of Moammar Khadafy’s youngest son and three grandchildren a few days ago. The White House didn’t devote much time talking about them, either. And I haven’t heard a peep in the mass media about the murder — all-but-forgotten but newly relevant — of Khadafy’s baby daughter in 1986, by a US missile strike (does it not chill the blood to imagine this man’s feelings about America right now?).

It’s pretty clear why these specimens of collateral damage are being given scant air time. It would complicate things for the American public to think of their designated Evil Ones, bin Laden and Kadafy, as human beings with actual flesh-and-blood daughters. The fact of their humanity (in the literal, not the ethical sense) does not justify or diminish bin Laden’s or Khadafy’s crimes. All it does is complicate things.

It throws off the narrative, by leading us to other thoughts.

It might lead us, for example, to think about the millions of lives destroyed by Uncle Sam’s wars. And that might get us thinking about how the Iraqi and Afghan and Pakistani widows and orphans must feel, watching clips on Al-Jazeera right now of Americans gleefully singing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

And then we might start thinking about the disparity between the number of Arab dead and the number of US dead in the World Trade Center. This is not to say that crimes against humanity can be quantified. But any line of inquiry that provides perspective is called for under transits like these; and we are talking about the difference between some 753,400 deaths in Iraq (WikiLeaks figures are available up until 2009) and Afghanistan; in comparison with fewer than 3,000 deaths on 9/11 in New York.

Thoughts that complicate things invite nuance into our thinking, and nuance creates confusion in a time of fevered groupthink. This is why, in all the brain-numbing hours of TV coverage about the extra-judicial assassination of bin Laden, we hear so little historical context. The mass media will not touch with a ten-foot pole any subject that flies in the face of the neat, dumb simplicity of the official narrative.

Such as the fact that before bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were styled as arch-villains, both spent several years on the CIA payroll. I’m not suggesting this makes them any less odious. For some of us, it makes them more odious still. But what does it make the US government?

Moral ambiguity is not easy to embrace. Nor are any of the other wrenching cultural changes upon us between now and 2023. But on a soul level, we know we are ready for them. In the monthly Skywatches, we’ll continue to talk about how to use transits to negotiate the turbulence from the center of our charts — the only vantage point that allows us any understanding.


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6 comments
thomas
thomas

Bin Laden 911 are part of the greatest hoax of all time. What is the astrological sign for universal delusion

Joelle Brink
Joelle Brink

The bin Laden assassination is already creating a great deal of "blowback", some of which we can see in the worsening relations between the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan. My guess is that it will leave a long debris trail of mistrust, suspicion and revenge just as 9-11 did, and it will certainly hasten Pakistan's growing alliance with China. (The two heads of state held a hasty conference immediately following the announcement of bin Laden's death.) Beyond being morally reprehensible, blunders of this magnitude have huge unexpected consequences beyond anything we can imagine. Think of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, a seemingly isolated event that ultimately plunged Europe into World War I. The assassination of bin Laden could well turn out to have a similar effect on Asia. Be careful what you wish for.

Judi
Judi

Hi Jessica, yes...I did have the same kind of reaction to this angle of the bin Laden story too...this is 'justice'? This is Justice with a bag over her head in shame. Of course, IF they had gone in to that compound to capture him, bring him out of Pakistan and to the Hague for war crimes trials, gee...would not that trail of bin Laden's also lead to his past life as a CIA asset? And wouldn't that then indicate certain high crimes and misdemeanors of the current and past American gov'ts? Here we have a president who is a Constitutional scholar following this path? Brave new world we are living in....does this not explain that actually allowing Osama to stand trial would lead to incovenient truths?

PatriciaG
PatriciaG

I completely agree with the comments of the two previous posters. When I saw people cheering the death of a man who has never been convicted of doing any harm to us and was implicated in 9/11 only by the most flimsy "evidence," I thought I was going to be sick to my stomach. It feels like suddenly finding oneself in the midst of a lynch mob, caught up in some hypnotic trance spun by Fox News. The rest of the world must surely think we've lost our minds -- or that our own government is running psy-ops against us. Thanks for reassuring me that I'm not the only one who feels this way!

Jamie S.
Jamie S.

I know what you mean by the"in the gut" feeling. I immediately felt how horrifying it would be for Bin Laden's family members to witness his murder. I didn't feel the satisfaction of "justice served." I didn't know anyone killed or harmed in the 9/11 attacks; if I did, I would probably feel differently. Its not that Bin Laden deserved to get away with planning the attacks against the U.S., but rather the way that the U.S. decided to handle this assassination in the most illegal & incredibly violent way that you described. I don't share in or understand our government's belief that America is allowed to break international laws, that American lives count more than the lives of other nations' citizens. When the invasion of Iraq began, I kept thinking of the tragedy of a country being bombed, people going without access to their roads or water, not to mention the civilian casualties. The invasion seemed so unethical to me. I am afraid that many Americans are lacking in empathy. I so distrust our government that I am doubting the whole event of Bin Laden's killing. What if he is still alive? The whole burial at sea and the "government officials have identified Bin Laden's DNA" sound like convenient ways to explain the lack of physical evidence, his body. And Obama's speech after the assassination just struck me as "He's lying." Perhaps he really didn't feel comfortable taking on the John Wayne-ish tone of "We got the bad guy" because Obama really did remind me of George W. in that speech. Or maybe Bin Laden isn't dead, he is still involved with our government and this is another cover up. These are my thoughts and concerns. Apologies for such a long reply. I'd also like to clarify that I am aware of the loss and grief experienced by families and friends of anyone harmed or killed in the 9/11 attacks, and in no way mean disrespect to them and their feelings.

Valerie
Valerie

Jessica, I look forward to your comments on "the strange case of 9/11." There is so much more to that story than Americans have been willing to hear. I have concerns as well about Monday's events in Pakistan. Thank you for consistent thoughtful analysis and for ever keeping it real.