Get Thee Behind Me

Originally published on on March 16, 2016.

Well, my friends, I’ve begun to tune back into the world stage — specifically in terms of politics — for the first time in a while, in preparation for some good old caucusing fun on March 26. I’ve kept my exposure limited to specific candidates I might potentially be caucusing for, and have experienced some pleasant surprises. For example, I was heartened to learn that Mr. Sanders voted against the Patriot Act both times.

Imagine that: a leader who believes and acts in the interests of our constitutional rights. At least twice.

I have, at the same time, felt my curiosity rise as to how my conservative family members are faring — would they really go so far as to vote for Trump? I don’t know why I’d be surprised, really, as they’ve never ceased to amaze me before, but I went ahead and asked my liberal mom how the fam seems to be doing. She said that one of them (the one I purposely and explicitly don’t talk to for reasons related to the 2008 election) says that he’s pissed off that he “might be forced to vote for Trump.”

Wow. What a way to compound all of the hate, fear and violent rage already being constellated within that sector of the American public. He’s going to come up with reasons why it’s liberal America’s fault that he has to vote for someone like Trump, and use it to fuel his anger. Of course, my interpretation could be wrong, but what a sobering display of stubborn hatred. Also? What a sobering display of the ways our political system is undeniably akin to a football game.

For reasons not directly related to American politics, I’ve been studying the archetype of ‘Evil’ lately, predominantly in terms of the asteroid Lucifer. It’s something I’ve been called to do for several years, but have been avoiding and putting off. Alas, the universe can be tricky, and its efforts to force the issue finally paid off (just as transiting Lucifer comes in for a nice conjunction with my North Node). Here I’ve been for the past two nights, learning about Evil right before bedtime.

Something that has been at the front of my mind today is the idea that Evil hides behind God. Bin Laden hid behind Islam. Dubya hid behind Christianity. Look at how much evil has been enacted in the name of religion throughout history. Evil tends to hide behind causes that many get behind; it manifests through seduction; it preys on feelings of victimization in those who allow their fears and insecurities to be anesthetized by a charismatic figure who takes control.

Now, how anyone can see Trump as charismatic is something I’ll never be able to understand, but as I walked around the city today I kept thinking about this notion of Evil hiding behind God and wondered how that made sense in terms of Trump. I mean, I’m pretty sure he proclaims to be some form of Christian, but is that a cornerstone of his platform? I don’t think I’ve seen him proclaiming to be doing God’s work — although that might be a byproduct of the fact that I’ve watched zero live-action shots of the man in recent years and tend to only buzz by his headlines.

He is, however, strongly associated with the main God of our culture: money. Is that it? As we’ve stripped our culture of ancient systems of belief, we’ve put all of our drive to discover, seek and make meaning into the pursuit of making money, worshipping goods and status. Is that in effect what Evil is now hiding behind? Doesn’t seem too much of a long shot. Then again, perhaps I’m stretching it. These thoughts are just coming out onto the page here, without a lot of dissection.

Once again, however, I’m compelled to reflect on our culture’s death wish, which seems to be exponentially increasing as of late. I link that to a lack of coherent spiritual systems that connect us with each other and our hearts.

Just before I began working on this piece, I came across the following quote by Sogyal Rinpoche, from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying:

I have come to realize that the disastrous effects of the denial of death go far beyond the individual: They affect the whole planet. Believing fundamentally that this life is the only one, modern people have no sense of long-term vision. So there is nothing restraining them from plundering the planet for their own immediate ends and from living in a selfish way that could prove fatal for the future.

It called to mind for me the relativity of a concept like ‘Evil’. Certainly it exists and can be pointed out in its most explicit forms — the Holocaust comes to mind. But isn’t there a quality of evil to the long-term plundering of the planet, which can also be linked to that inability to tap into a long-term vision? Is it Evil that stripped us of our ways of relating to the afterlife and vital meaning-making skills, or just our own ignorance? Is it evil that we have chosen to move forward in a godless society? How are these things connected?

What I’m learning about the asteroid Lucifer is similar to what I’ve learned about any tense aspect of an astrological signature: the challenge is to recognize and bring awareness to how it works in your life, to recognize your emotional weak links and understand when they are becoming distorted and magnified, so that you can respond accordingly. That’s something I can work on at the same time as I grapple with the many layers of my own hesitance to use a term like ‘Evil’ to describe a man like Donald Trump, or to announce its presence in general — or to spend time studying it for that matter.

If Evil preys on the innocent in insidious and seductive ways, I take heart that I know so many people in the world are committed to kindness and love. I know a good number as well who are committed to doing the kind of work that involves looking within to identify where Evil might be at work inside. But sometimes I wonder: what about everyone else? Is there something more active to be done to help them? Do they need help? Do we just focus on changing ourselves and what we can change outside of ourselves, and hope for the best? Is that a form of denial in and of itself?

Once again, I’m leaving this space with questions that don’t have simple answers. Just some food for thought — and in closing, a heaping dose of love.


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