No one is born a racist.
When we see very young children of different races playing together there are no feelings of inferiority or superiority based on physical appearances. True, there is a natural, childish wonder that they bring to everything they encounter.
“Why is your skin brown?”
“Why is your hair yellow?”
“How come your eyes turn up at the corners?”
Children wonder about everything because it’s all shiny and new to them, but they don’t judge what they’re encountering. Racism is a judgement that’s added into their naturally innocent minds by adults who are too stupid to know better.
And, “adding in,” is what the Temperance card is all about.
When most of us hear the word, “temperance,” we automatically think of moderation or even abstinence. If you’re from the United States you may think of the temperance movement and Crazy Carrie Nation rampaging through saloons, destroying liquor bottles and barrels with her hatchet.
Another, alternate definition, however, is, “to mix together in the proper proportions.”
An example of that is the tempering of metals, in which other metals are added to the original metal to increase it’s flexibility or strength. And that is clearly what the angel in the Temperance card is doing. She isn’t abstaining from something or being moderate; she’s mixing two things together. And that, of course, brings up the question: “What two things?”
Think of it this way: we’re all born with a particular nature which we call, “being human.” Arguments between philosophers and (later) psychologists have gone back and forth about exactly what that means. How much of, “being human,” are we born with (our nature) and how much do we acquire or learn from our parents and culture (our nurturing?)
The nature versus nurture debate remains pretty open ended. We’re still finding out that some components of our behavior are learned, some spring straight from our instincts, and some are instinctual but with learned components added on to them.
We don’t really have to get into that debate for the purpose of discussing this card. Let’s just grant that there is a basic human nature that most people are born with and that as we grow and age we learn additional things, acquire new skills, and gain more knowledge. Nothing controversial about that, right?
But, again, the question is, “What’s being mixed?” What’s being added to our basic natures as we go along in life?
There are, of course, elements that our parents, relatives and teachers add to us before we’re really old enough to make rational decisions about whether or not we agree with what they’re adding. And that pre-rational programming can really sabotage us later in life. Psychologist Gay Hendricks was born to a single mother in a small, Southern town. His mother abandoned him soon after his birth and he was reared by his grandparents. While he was financially secure growing up, his grandfather was extremely distant emotionally and seemed to hold Gay in some way responsible for his daughter giving birth out of wedlock and ruining her reputation.
It wasn’t until much later in life that Hendricks realized that he was manifesting older, emotionally withholding, critical authority figures in his life and career. Basically, he was playing out the script that had been implanted in his subconscious when he was far too young to judge whether it was valid: old men judging him and finding him lacking.
So, yes, it’s very important to figure out what may have been, “added to us,” when we were young. But there also comes a time, if we are fairly evolved people, when we consciously CHOOSE what’s being added to our basic natures.
I have friends who get on FaceBook every single day of the week and post endless streams of news stories about what a rotten, despicable, corrupt, son of a bitch Donald Trump is. And I agree. BUT . . . I don’t want Donald Trump in my head all day. (Hell, I don’t even want him in my universe for one minute.) And so I CHOOSE to acknowledge that reality – yes, the Cheeto King is one twisted sister – and then LET IT GO. I don’t want to internalize that kind of poison.
And that seems to be the deal: we can’t choose what’s out there or control what other people are doing or saying. But we can choose what we internalize and make a part of ourselves. Burying your head in the sand and pretending that people like Trump don’t exist not only isn’t the answer, it’s downright irresponsible. As Louise Hay said, “You can’t clean the house if you don’t see the dirt.”
Going back to the analogy of mixing different metals to temper them, we can consciously ask ourselves: “Does this make me stronger and more flexible, or does this make me more rigid and brittle? Do I want to add this to my Self and make it a permanent part of me, or do I simply acknowledge it and let it go?”
We can consciously seek out the positive and look for things that will make us grow and evolve. Maybe read that book on Buddhism or try that class on mindfulness meditation or take a few minutes to watch that YouTube video on Spirit Guides.
At the end of the day we are our own alchemists. We get to choose what ingredients we’re going to put in the magical, mystical potion called life. And that’s called Temperance.