Sunday, April 7, 2013

An Effort Worth Repeating

Almost Daily One-up, 04/07/13

Last night I watched “The Weight of Chains,” a documentary about the rise and fall of Yugoslavia. It was made by a Serbian, and told from a point of view that was mainly Yugoslavian, supported by several international economists, journalists, and US ex-military. In it I found much revealed and much clarified; what I took away most, however, was this sense of “same-old same-old,” that the details, shocking as they are, are in a sense nothing new. The empires of Rome, the Ottoman, the Austro-Hungarian, they all had names – today the Empire is an unnamed conspiracy of convenience, sometimes conscious, sometimes not, ruled by corporate, monetary interests that know no borders. In the case of Yugoslavia and its ongoing aftermath, the US, the EU, NATO – all dressed in humanitarian-protect-the-world-for-democracy garb – are portrayed as righteous victors, but are in fact neither righteous, nor victorious, nor even conquerors. They wield the power but answer to a power undefined. The mechanics of Empire, however, are evident: deception, betrayal, misdirection, propaganda, brutality, greed, and suffering.

In the late 19th century, George Santayana stated that “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It’s also been said by many that “history repeats itself” – those two statements are used interchangeably. But while the first statement may be true, it occurs to me with today’s casting that the last is patently false: history never repeats itself. Panta rhei, we never step in the same river twice. What stays in place are the mechanisms – both within us individually and in turn as a society – that create history. We can imagine ourselves helplessly stuck in recurring patterns, or we can search for deeper causes. This goes for us on our individual paths as well as for us as a people: our inner Empires can be just as slippery as the outer ones. 

Today’s casting shows the Repeat card over mi, the point of “effort required.” The keycenter is A# ascending, indicating energy moving upward from the Third Eye to the Crown chakra, from the personal to the transpersonal: it’s about bringing personal wisdom and insight to the communal table and affecting real change.

We are not doomed to repeat history; we are required to persist in our efforts to see, to understand. To see the same mechanisms grinding into action again and again, and yes, to remember history, but more importantly to remember the end we desire; to be ruthless in our observations, but never unkind; to employ repeatedly the subtle shifts in focus that empower what we want and disempower what we don’t. Methinks that's the gig.

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