These past few weeks have been confusing, no doubt. Greece was up, then down, then back up again, maybe. The Confederate flag, literally, was up and then down. The pride filters made their appearance, then disappeared, but may be back again. The “Hill and Trump Show” continues to entertain. Was she subpoenaed or not? Did she withhold emails or not? Is Trump a maniac or a straight-shooting, deceptively smooth, populist operator? And how can somebody whose name is trumpeted (sorry) on buildings along the Hudson River and Central Park be a populist? I thought those were supposed to be Harry Truman types.
I find all of this confusing, not because I actually follow it–I don’t–but because what is changing, transforming, and mutating lies below the surface of the circus.
News comes and goes with the speed of a tweet, and there is all manner of garbage on the Internet, some of it uncensored and uncivilized. Both censorship and civilization seem up for grabs. The NSA will take care of the former, Miley Cyrus et al. the latter. One gets the impression that the circus is really about ticket sales, as it always has been. However, I take solace in knowing that even the pope seems confused. When presented with a gift from Bolivian President Evo Morales of a gold hammer and sickle with a crucifix attached to it, Francis didn’t know what to do. “Maybe it’ll look good in a corner of the patio, Evo.”
If the circus is a cover for what is really going on, then what is really going on? I’ll leave the conspiracy theories to those who are more adept at and familiar with the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Queen Elizabeth, and Nordic aliens. That is a rabbit hole I cannot go down. What I do know is that events are confusing, because the symbols we use to express meaning and identity are changing. They are being used in different and unique ways to express conscious and unconscious forces. Symbols do that, of course. That’s what makes them so effective. What is different now is the speed with which they are changing and their new variations.
If all of this feels like you are standing on jello, it might help to know that when the myths and symbols of a civilization change, it indicates a major shift in that civilization. This occurs not just historically, but in the collective consciousness and unconsciousness of people. I say might help, because such shifts have coincided with monumental events on the order of revolutions, social upheavals, and even geographic cataclysms. Think of the French Revolution, Columbus’ voyages, the Great Flood.
Here are some suggestions not just for surviving the coming shift, which we are already in, but, as the positive psychologists like to say, “thriving” in it.
First, do not lose your sense of humor. Do not become so obsessed with the symbol you identify with that it takes over your life. After all, although symbols contain to some degree the reality they symbolize, they are not that reality; that is, they point to something beyond themselves. Second, know that symbols, as symbols, grow and change. What they mean changes over time. The task is to keep the essence of a symbol without getting lost in its outer trappings. Easier said than done, yes, but that’s why sitting down and talking things through is preferable to shouting bumper sticker superficialities. Third, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the end of the world. It isn’t. You’ll still have to wake up Monday morning and go to work. Four, don’t be bullied. I’ve noticed that Hill, Trump, and their partisans like to do that.
The times may be a changin, but there are some things that never change.
Haven’t had enough? Go to Robert Brancatelli and, for the cast of characters of the Mercury trilogy, Amazon. Middle photo courtesy of America. Note to self: If you don’t want to be arrested for manslaughter, don’t sign up to be part of a group tour.