Pssst . . . there’s a psychotic in the White House . . .
Pssst . . . Donald Trump has been sent by god himself to save our country.
Depending on which news channel you watch you can hear either message any day of the week. No matter where you fall in the spectrum between those two opinions, there can’t be any doubt that we’re experiencing a major conflict in values in the United States right now. Call it a war between the haves and the have-nots, between the Left and the Right, between the Democrats and the Republicans – call it whatever – there’s no doubt that a LOT of people are pissed off and willing to talk (or shout) about the differences in their values.
A more productive way to examine it might be to take a look at the ground of those values. What are people’s basic beliefs about the world and their place in it? How do they experience life itself? Do they view the Earth as a beautiful cradle that holds sacred life or as a never-ending battle field where only the tough survive?
In the Seven of Wands we see a figure who is literally under siege. He has the high ground but combatants are coming at him from every angle. He’s perched right in the middle of a battle and he has to fight or perish. The world he inhabits is NOT a safe place, to say the least.
That stuff happens and we’ve all been there at one time or another. Sometimes you do have to stand up and fight for your ideas or your ideals, for your positions or your principles. The question, though, is whether that’s a temporary situation in our lives or the way that we view life in general.
We’re certainly hearing a lot of rhetoric that indicates a very, very fearful world-view. Be afraid of Mexicans. Be afraid of Black folks. Be afraid of the Chinese. Be afraid of Muslims, and immigrants, and foreigners, and liberals, and socialists, and gay people and even be afraid of toilets that you have to flush too many times.
Be afraid. Be very, very, very AFRAID!!!
And, of course, there’s the corollary proposition that flows out of that fear, which is that anyone who isn’t afraid is an idiot, a chump, a fool, a snowflake.
But what if we look at all of that fear from a different perspective? What if some people are just hard-wired to view the world as a hostile, scary place? Is it possible that they just can’t NOT view life that way?
It’s an intriguing question, because – if true – those people are probably more deserving of our pity than our anger. They’re suddenly transformed from angry trolls into rabbits quivering in terror in their self-imposed cages.
Consider this: the amygdala is the part of the brain that contains our fight or flight reactions. In other words, that’s where anger and fear hang out in our brains. Brain scans performed at the University College of London actually showed that conservatives have LARGER amygdalas than liberals and are more reactive to fear.
A 2008 study found that conservatives are MUCH more sensitive to stimuli which they view as threatening, such as sudden loud noises or scary images.
A 2012 study found that conservatives tend to have what psychologists call a “negativity bias.” In other words, they view their environment in largely negative terms and tend to see it as threatening. Liberals see butterflies and conservatives see spiders.
Now, if all of that fear and anger really is hardwired into their nervous systems, if their brains really are predisposed to fighting or fleeing, we can’t do much about that. We can’t expect someone who is color blind to suddenly appreciate the different shades of blue.
But what we CAN do is to have a shift in our own perspectives. What we can do is to try to have more compassion for these people who are trapped in a rather hellish world of anger, fear, and contempt. They can’t NOT be that way and that’s very sad, in addition to being very dangerous.
H.L. Mencken once observed that the average anglo saxon goes to bed at night terrified that someone is hiding under his bed and wakes up in the morning convinced that someone has stolen his socks.
That’s a humorous way of putting it but it’s a way of life – and experiencing life – for a lot of people. Some people don’t just get the Seven of Wands in a reading – they ARE the Seven of Wands.
And we have to find a way to live with them.