Tuesday, September 3, 2013

On Syria

Roving Lesbian Astrologer
September 2013
On Syria


Syria is in the news these days, and the question that arises is whether the country should be bombed, as a response to their use of nerve gas.  Punishment?  Deterrent?  Would it really function as either of those things?   Is it likely that Bashar al-Assad will respond by saying, “Okay, you got me -  I won’t do it anymore!”  Or is it more likely that hurling a bunch of bombs would be like throwing a match on an already full-blown fire?      

I’d like to say that cooler heads will prevail, because of the harmonious Saturn/Pluto sextile.  Saturn is the planet of wisdom, while Pluto is about transformation.  Ideally, there could be an understanding in the U.S. government that bombing a country is never just a symbolic act, but an actual means of inflicting death on a population.  It’s not pretty.  Ideally, Bashar al-Assad will wake up one morning, smack his forehead, and say, “Whoa!  I’ve accumulated some bad karma!  I’d better cut this out.”   

Well, maybe it won’t go that far.  But Saturn is a cautious planet, mostly conservative when it comes to taking action.  The president’s lobbing of this hot potato to Congress is a case in point.  And it’s true that, with Saturn in sextile to Pluto, a generous helping of basic caution could be a catalyst for some important changes.  If the debate stays in the public eye, without an easy resolution, people will start to think about the underlying issues. 

The other day, I went out with my family to see the newest film hit, The Butler.   It’s the story of one man, a butler in the White House, but also the story of the Civil Rights Movement.  In some ways, it’s a feel-good movie, because people in the U.S. can say that we’ve come a long way since those primitive days when Ku Klux Klan goons overturned buses full of idealistic young people.  On the other hand, I think this film also brings up some very uncomfortable feelings. It reminds us of the atrocities we are capable of inflicting on each other.   

And I think it’s good to be reminded of this occasionally, especially when we’re on the verge of bombing a population that seems intrinsically foreign to us.  In astrological symbolism, Pluto is about The Stranger, that shadowy figure who seems to embody everything we are not, and yet who lives in our psyches.  People spend a lot of time trying to root out the Stranger (also known as the Devil).  Pluto is also about power, and a harmonious aspect involving Pluto can give an opportunity to find new (wiser and more cautious) ways of using our power, and owning our shadows. 

At the same time, this aspect is realistic, and it doesn’t make the underlying problem go away.  What responsibility do we have, when we see humans subjected to abusive behavior in other countries?  At the least, we have the responsibility to protest, to express outrage, and to publicize the truth.   And when we pay attention to outrages in other countries, we may also take the harder step and admit that injustice, oppression and deep crevices of fear still exist in our own country. 

A few weeks ago, I went to the March on Washington, the anniversary of the one in which Dr. King gave his most famous speech.  There was a good crowd of people, celebrating, reminiscing, underlining a message that had been given fifty years before.  I walked along under an array of purple balloons, happy that lesbians and gays are included in the dream.   

But with all the things that have changed in this half-century, it’s still clear that some things haven’t.  There are underclasses in the United States;  there are underclasses everywhere.  And the destruction caused by institutional violence helps to create and maintain these marginalized populations, one way or another. Sometimes it’s bombs and tanks, crumbling people’s houses.  Sometimes it’s police or neighborhood vigilantes, too quick to fire.  Sometimes it’s the static violence of prison.  All these things are supported by financial interests, and all the financial interests are safely away from the violence enacted. 

So what will the Saturn/Pluto sextile of October do?  What can we hope for?  Maybe a pause, before we lift the heavy hand of power?  Maybe an understanding of what we do, so often and so thoughtlessly?  I’m hoping so.