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Kingston, NY, Friday, September 19, 2008

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Give and Take
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

WHEN PLUTO, in the last degrees of Sagittarius, went direct a few days ago, reality paid us a call. It visited its laser-light on Wall Street. Main Street, as Barack Obama asserts, had already felt its wrath. The financial institutions had enjoyed a leisurely respite from accountability since Pluto's retrograde in May, but now the bill's come due on greed, corruption and predatory capitalism. And although many of us knew it was coming, the world has sucked in its breath in surprise.

This nation was founded by the wealthy; what the Republicans would call elitists, although by and large they're describing themselves. The Boston Tea Party was carried out against unfair taxation by disgruntled businessmen, who chafed against the controls imposed by England. It is easy enough to strike a populist note within such a rebellion, since the good of the whole is derived from a stable economy; but it should be noted that not all of those who climbed aboard the two British East India ships to dump her cargo (some 45 tons of tea worth well over a million dollars today) could easily afford tea themselves.

For the average American, it's the intrinsic unfairness of our current commerce that drives the emotional bus we're on; in our government today, fairness (as well as regulation or oversight) does not appear on the list of requisites for financial growth. Most politicians look at the numbers, not the faces of those in despair. John McCain, for instance, has determined the economy "basically sound," and for John, with his many homes and wealthy wife, the economic future is probably a good deal more rosy than the Average Joe/Jane's. John is no doubt buoyed by the money coming in at the top: the disproportionate distribution of wealth from trickle-down economics that has created another Robber Baron society, not seen since the turn of the 20th century.

When questioned on that pronouncement, given on the day now known as Black Monday, the Republican candidate clarified by saying that he believed in the resilient productivity of the American worker, daring anyone to challenge that notion: as if anyone would. That's a classic example of Republican bluff and emotional intimidation. Along with a growing list of expedient McCain flip-flops, among them a call for regulation after having fought against it tooth and nail for over 20 years, this seems to me one more example of Bushian double-speak and smoke-blowing. He followed this by proclaiming a need to study the problem, calling for something along the lines of the 9/11 Commission in order to make recommendations; that group, convened in 2002, gave their final (and highly contested) report in 2004.

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Illustration by D. Voirin from found clip art.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, has called Black Monday the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression; 2001 Nobel Prize winner in Economics, Joseph Stiglitz, agrees with him. Given such a state of emergency, does anyone in their right mind think we have two years to respond to a challenge of this magnitude?

The financial news out of America is shaking the world economy, prompting the current administration to bail out greedy, unprincipled money-changers using tax dollars that have already been hijacked for war and militarism, and showing us all how naked Emperor Economy has become after decades of Reagan deregulation. The fox has been in charge of the hen house, and we've been left with a nice pile of feathers and little else.

Political pundits who have said this current election will turn on the economy are no doubt patting themselves on the back, now; but war cannot be taken out of the equation. If this nation cannot be moved by humanitarian outcry, then perhaps it can be kicked along by economic realities.

The war in Iraq alone is costing taxpayers $10 billion a month; Obama tells us that puts the average family behind the eight-ball for $100 per month, themselves. And as Afghanistan is now rivaling Iraq in death and security problems, both troops and money are being shifted to deal with that long-forgotten war front. More money: and where will it come from?

The United States Treasury is not the goose that continues to lay the golden egg, and the Federal Reserve may be printing money as quickly as possible, but it lends us this paper, charging interest that has the capacity to sink us. Obama has already announced that some of his proposed tax relief will have to be put off until the national picture is more stable; Barack is a pragmatist and I'll give him credit for leveling with a nation he thinks is smart enough to handle it.

McCain has no intention of actually leveling with, or helping out, the American people as his tax plan makes clear. Graphs comparing his proposed policies to Obama's give us the visual that makes the obvious more so -- Obama is the bottom-up candidate, interested in creating the playing field as fair for the little guy, while McCain, who promises to "shake up Washington," is the actual elitist who would leave things much as they are.

It's worth noting -- and Republicans, take heed -- that he will also privatize Social Security and eliminate employer-sponsored health care. Maverick John is actually Sucker Punch John, but we're evidently too fascinated with sassy Sarah's legal back-peddling on four-inch heels to notice.

For a nation in economic crisis, these are not only philosophical camps that people divide between, they're also attitudes that show up in each of our minds like ingredients in a cake. Take a half-cup of realism, a quarter-cup of cynicism and mix well; beat in a large dollop of Republicanism, a dash of Democratic principal and bake. Shake a thin layer of spiritual idealism over the top while still warm and eat it yourself.

Or maybe you're one of those who would mix equal portions of Democratic and spiritual thought with a handful of realism, a pinch of conservatism and just a hint of cynicism; while still warm, offer to your neighbors for free. Examine the cake you're baking. It will tell you how the next months of your life will play out.

Our relationship with money is a third-chakra event; it's about survival. Nothing waves a red flag at our insecurities more than financial wobble. If we take a step back and draw a halt to Fear we can reprioritize our actual needs as opposed to our wants, and appraise our lifestyle in a pragmatic fashion.

We are a nation accustomed to plenty; we have been oblivious to the amount of waste that we see daily and we have valued convenience to our detriment. Coming to adjustment in our manner of living, and balance in the nation's resources, isn't a bad thing; it's just a painful one. As Gandhi said, "earthprovides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed."

A Course in Miracles warns against separation in all things, and specifically in substance as it tells us, "Giving and receiving is one." Give and take is a loop of energy, not separate even among the givers or the takers; it functions as a whole. When we give of our good, we not only bless someone else but open ourselves to be blessed. If we are afraid we don't have enough to give, we stop the looping energy that allows us to receive.

A knee-jerk response to fear of lack only circumvents our ability to get what we need, much as a run on a bank closes its doors. If we want to keep our financial balance, we must not interrupt the flow of giving and receiving -- the sure exchange of goods, services, kindness and love -- that keeps us in the flow of well-being.

Even with a sorry financial prospect in the coming months, the adjustments that are ahead of us will be met by the coming face of Pluto in Capricorn; this is a no-nonsense energy, and one that polices institutions and social structures.

Installing a progressive President would be a merciful experiment, but the concept of the Phoenix rising from the ashes is on its way with or without. Armed with foreknowledge that we are making such a basic adjustment, we must learn to trust our own instinct and intuition, let go of our need to control what we have no power over and step into the flow of good. We must flex our spiritual muscle, as Eckhart Tolle has advised:
If there is truly nothing that you can do to change your here and now, and you can't remove yourself from the situation, then accept your here and now totally by dropping all inner resistance. The false, unhappy self that loves feeling miserable, resentful or sorry for itself can then no longer survive. This is called surrender. Surrender is not weakness. There is great strength in it. Only a surrendered person has spiritual power. Through surrender you will be free internally of the situation. You may then find that the situation changes without any effort on your part. In any case, you are free.
We are in constant relationship, on this plane; we are in a relationship with money as well. If we are to come through this ring of fire unscathed, we must reassess ALL of our relationships, to make sure they're sound and well tended, functional and healthy. When we depend on the Higher Angels of our being, call upon our innate creativity and resourcefulness, we can expect to be met with a puff of wind beneath our wings. Maintaining our ability to push back fear and keep the flow of give and take moving us forward only requires us to shake off whatever impedes us at the moment and make the most of what we have, putting faith in the Source of our good.

We will live to tell about this period in our reformation, and if we remember that giving and receiving is of one piece, a single activity, it will be a less anxious tale than we expect it to be. The ingredients we're mixing in our philosophy, our thought process -- our hearts -- will determine if we will be standing in soup-line consciousness, or be able to have our cake and share it too.

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