Monday, November 5, 2018

On the Verge




I’m writing this on the day before Election Day, so I still don’t know how things will turn out.  After a couple of bright, warm autumn days, today is cold and dark and wet.  Leaves are stuck to the edges of the street, and puddles are growing into small brown lakes.   

And later today, I’m flying to Vienna, to watch my wife give a speech in front of a thousand people at the Council of International Schools’ Global Forum.  I just have a few last-minute things to stuff in my suitcase, and then I’m ready.   

I used to leave the country a lot, and I was almost never here on Election Day.  I always voted by absentee ballot, though, and I did that again this year.  Still, the geographic distance used to give me a kind of psychic distance.  Being an ex-pat is like hovering over a landscape, admiring the lovely colors and the way they blend into each other, but never getting a close-up on the dirt. 

We moved to the U.S. six years ago, a heady time in the Age of Obama.  Marisol and I acquired a panoply of rights we hadn’t had before, culminating in getting married and me being able to sponsor her for a green card. I still had my trust issues with the U.S., but they were fading.  I felt like I could live here.  I saw important social movements – Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter – gain influence and point out a new direction. 

Then came the election of 2016.  There has been an even stronger burst of activism since then, especially relating to feminism and anti-racism.  But we’ve been dealing with retrograde movement at the highest level of government, combined with an official attitude of hostility towards women, Black people, gay people, transgender people, and all ethnic and religious minorities. 

In fact, practically all of us are now in the category of Trump’s chumps, and many of the white people who aren’t in the roll-call are hell-bent on staying out of it, even if it involves a lot of cognitive dissonance.  Like any classic bully, like any typical dictator, Trump keeps himself insulated with a barrier of sycophants, now (but hopefully not for too much longer) comprising the Congressional majority. 

I know that I’m not objective enough to predict tomorrow’s election.  Since I won’t be here in the U.S., I won’t be tempted to glue myself to the television.  I’ll just wait till the next morning to hear the good or bad news, whichever it is.   

But it does look like a time of change.  Jupiter is just on the verge of moving into Sagittarius, where it will stay for a year and a month.  It changes sign on November 8.   

What will Jupiter in Sagittarius bring us?  It’s more optimistic, and more international in scope.  Sagittarius is the sign of world travel.  This xenophobia we see everywhere – could it be a very temporary withdrawal, born of fear?  After all, our world view is constantly widening, since we all communicate with each other (and with strangers) so easily.  Whether we like it or not, we are becoming global citizens – and there are many who don’t like it, and who feel threatened by it.  But this doesn’t change the trajectory.

Meanwhile, however, Pluto and Saturn are still moving through Capricorn, the sign of structure and formality.  This is the sign that is most well-adapted to the status quo, favoring large corporations and capitalism in general.  One of the dangerous trends we see is that, as we become more global in scope, we are sucked up by these large money-making entities.  It’s easier to control people when we’re all exposed to the same influences.  And this could increase with Jupiter in Sagittarius. 

We can hope that, like bees and ants and other social creatures, we’ll have enough sense to break away before these structures become even more unwieldy and monolithic.  But so far we don’t seem to have the same ecological good sense as insects.  We have a tendency to keep growing, using all available resources till they’re gone, generating waste that disfigures our landscapes.  And since Sagittarius is a sign of expansion, I’m not necessarily seeing an end to this.

Polarization could increase with Jupiter in Sagittarius, as well.  Sagittarius is hopeful, in a kind of puppy dog way, while Capricorn tends towards a more cynical and restrained approach.  We already see this division between people who are still expecting positive change, and those who prefer the familiarity of the existing arrangements.  So the hopeful and the hopeless could get into a lot of dogfights over the coming year, each convinced that their viewpoint is right.  Charge ahead, or hunker down?  It’s an existential choice. 

Most states begin Election Day at 6 or 7 am, and on the east coast, the moon will still be void-of-course then.   The void-of-course moon is famous for leading to dead ends.  This could mean that some early voters could have trouble getting to the polls, and some early votes may not be counted (or counted correctly).  After 8:02 am EST, the moon is no longer void-of-course. 

However, another erratic factor shows up as soon as the moon enters the following sign, Scorpio (at 8:02 am).  It’s forming a very tight fixed cross with Uranus and the lunar nodes.  Uranus, the planet of change, is just on the verge of changing signs.  The lunar nodes, which have to do with karmic factors, are also just about to change signs.  It looks to me like the forces of change are much stronger than the force of stasis – and this makes me hopeful that we can change the look and stance of Congress.    

I don’t like to predict, though, as I said.  All that rather unstable energy could go in other ways, such as disrupted voting procedures.  These planets and nodes are on the verge of changing, but they won’t have entered their new signs when people cast their ballots.  Will people vote for a change that they can’t quite see?  A reality that looms in the future, a trade-off where the gains are not clear?  It all may boil down to how afraid people are.  And this administration has been working mightily to instill as much fear of the unknown as possible.

Meanwhile, I’m taking off, for now.  I’ll enjoy being a tourist, someone who roams the streets and marvels at the things she sees.  For a little while, I’ll taste the air outside this country.  But then I’ll be back – impassioned, accountable, daunted one minute and hopeful the next.