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Fate, Free Will, and America's Destiny

As we approach what will likely be the most important Presidential election of our lifetime, I think it is wise to again address the eternal enigma that surrounds all astrological forecasting, and forms of spiritual divination in general – the question of the impact of fate versus the power of human will.

This cosmic equation may be one that can never be conclusively solved – at least by anyone on this side of the great divide between life and death. Still, some consideration of this equation is both inevitable and instructive. As I attempted to convey to readers of Human Potential Left in my November 2003 profile of the eventual Democratic Presidential nominee, “Why John Kerry Matters”:

“…it is my belief that while the rough shape of the future can be reasonably deciphered, the actual details of that future are very much dependant on our input and actions. For instance, while their are probably hundreds of men and women who were born at approximately the same moments as Howard Dean, John Kerry or George W. Bush, they are the only three in this group that have any chance of being elected President in November 2004 – due to their efforts up to this point in this specific lifetime. I see no reason to assume that their efforts in this campaign will not also materially impact its outcome.”

Obviously, there has to be more going on here than just astrology. There has to be a place reserved for the element of human choice, as well as any number of additional factors. It can't just be “the chart”.

Now, my technical opinion as an astrologer remains that John Kerry has what I'd describe as a mighty cosmic wind at his back. This opinion is not based on some vague intuition on my part, but rather my evaluation of the cumulative impact of several very specific astrological factors. And we've all had the opportunity to watch this cosmic wind at work. Kerry has just concluded a series of debates with President Bush, and in the eyes of most of objective observers, triumphed in all three. Kerry is receiving the lion's share of endorsements by major metropolitan newspapers – including quite a number of newspapers that endorsed Mr. Bush in 2000. Conversely, with regard to the President, the news from Iraq, and about the economy, continues to be grim. And at long last, serious questions are being posed about Dubya's mental health – and not a moment too soon, if you ask me. Yet, the pollsters continue to describe a race that is, astonishingly, within the margin of error.

I've written extensively over the past eighteen months about the likely impact of the Saturn cycle on the United States, beginning with the essay “It's Always Darkest Before the Dawn”. I've focused primarily in these earlier articles on its relevancy to a critical evaluation of George W. Bush's performance as President, and the sustainability of his Administration's direction and polices. More recently, in my open letters to New York Times columnist David Brooks, I've also begun to explore the larger implications of the Saturn cycle on the future of American Democracy. I believe that this focus on the performance of the American people is essential, and long overdue.

The United States Constitution begins with the words “We the People”. Hence, the legitimacy of our entire system of government is ultimately only conferred via the assent of “the people”. But this assent has profound material and spiritual consequences. For instance, it is reasonable to assume that the citizens of a constitutional democracy bear a significant degree of responsibility for the actions and direction of a nation. By extension, whatever our government does overseas, for good or for ill, must ultimately be thought of as being done in our name.

Now, let me stipulate upfront that, in our era of cell-phone only households, and Americans forced to work two and three jobs to make ends meet (and hence, rarely home, or too busy to make the time to respond to survey questions), I am dubious of pollsters ability to precisely gauge public sentiment. That stipulated, ours' is a country in which, in March 2003, approximately 70% of Americans believed that the time had arrived to go to war in Iraq. That 70% included Democrats, Republicans and Independents. If George Bush made a terrible choice in rushing to war in Iraq, – without adequate body armor for our troops, without having first persuaded NATO allies who were then actively supporting our military efforts in Kosovo and Afghanistan to join us, and without a plan to win the peace – he made that mistake in the context of overwhelming public support for his dubious leadership. Hence, the blame for this Iraq debacle must also rest on the shoulders of the American people. If public support for an invasion of Iraq were substantially lower in March 2003, say in the 40% region, I suspect that the intensely political Bush Administration might have adopted a significantly less aggressive approach to containing the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

As late as last month, according to a Newsweek poll, 42% of Americans continued to believe that Saddam Hussein was involved with 9/11 – even after the 9/11 Commission Report made crystal clear that it found no evidence to support a contention of a material collaboration between the terrorists and Hussein's regime. None. There was no evidence, for instance, that Mohammed Atta ever met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague. Clearly, the Bush Administration, and specifically the President and Vice-President Cheney, must bear major responsibility for deliberately manipulating Americans' perceptions of a connection between Hussein and the 9/11 conspirators, as well as the ludicrous assertion that the so-called War on Terror led right through an old-style Stalinist state – rather than, for instance, through Saudi Arabia, which is home of the Wahhabi clerics who inspire and nurture the likes of Bin Laden. And some responsibility for these shocking poll numbers must also be placed on the shoulders of a shamefully compliant corporate-controlled media, who are spectacularly failing at their essential watchdog role. But, at the end of the day, and in my opinion, those specific Americans who remain so easily misled must also bear some share of responsibility for their failure to fulfill the citizen's role in an allegedly enlightened Democracy. That role is to get the facts straight.

I also note that this same 42% number essentially mirrors the level of support for President Bush's reelection in the most recent polls. I'm sure that these Bush supporters have their reasons for supporting the President, and continuing to believe in a mythical connection between Hussein's Iraq and Bin Laden. But these reasons bear no relation to any conclusion that might have been arrived at through use of the faculty of reason.

Reason and Faith
It is an article of spiritual faith for me that the Founding Fathers' embrace of Enlightenment ideas and ideals marked a critical stage in the development of humanity, and fundamentally altered the course of human history. Their embrace of reason and healthy skepticism in the construction of our government (as illustrated through principles like the Separation of Powers), and the specific protection of civil liberties (including a Freedom of, and from, Religion), may be their greatest gift to humanity as a whole – and the rationale as to why God, or the Goddess, or the Cosmos, has so often appeared to stand at America's side in its hour of greatest need. Ever since its birth some two hundred and twenty-eight years ago, America has stood a symbol of a continually evolving, enlightened democracy – and as an inspiration of a better way for all of humanity in the centuries to come.

Today, as we near this first Presidential Election in the aftermath of 9/11 (and the onset of this doleful era of sacred madness), America stands at a crossroads. It can endorse the policies and leadership of a President who clearly has begun to assume a Messiah-like quality for many of his supporters, and who very likely has begun to see himself as God's messenger in America. Or it can choose another man of authentic faith, whose entire life has been the embodiment of the kind of intelligent, enlightened patriotism that is uniquely representative of the American experience, and about whom there are no questions with regard to his mental health, or ultimate fitness to be Commander-in-Chief of a nation engaged in a terrible war of ideas. But which man will the American people choose? And is this choice predestined?

Two Roads to the American Future
I obviously can't answer this question with any kind of certainty. But if I am becoming convinced of anything, it is that this choice is not fated. And upon this choice lies the shape of the next 20 years of American history, and even perhaps the ultimate fate of our American experiment itself. The next two decades promise to be among the most dramatic and momentous of the modern era. With transiting Pluto moving out of tropical Sagittarius by 2008 and into Capricorn, we can expect this planet's transformative emphasis to shift from the areas of human beliefs systems and religions, to deconstructing institutional and economic forces that wield an unhealthy hegemonic influence in the affairs of man. To give the reader an idea of the kind of transformation that I am hinting at, the last two passages of Pluto through Capricorn brought humanity first the Protestant Reformation, and then the American Revolution. To my way of thinking, the America that George W. Bush and his Fundamentalist and Neo-Conservative allies envision represents an amalgamation of some of the worst qualities of the Catholic Church that Martin Luther rejected, and the British Empire that our forefathers took up arms against. If America itself, the fruit of Pluto's last sojourn through Capricorn, becomes the bullying economic and military colossus that President Bush would make it in his 2nd term, then my warning would be to expect the process of political and economic deconstruction to begin with us – especially with Pluto making a number of first-time ever aspects to the United States chart.

In my opinion, John Kerry's America would likely experience a somewhat gentler fate. While President Bush and Vice-President Cheney have made much mischief with the idea of a global test, the notion that the opinion of others mattered did not begin with Kerry, but rather with Thomas Jefferson, in The Declaration of Independence. As Jefferson wrote:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

Consider that last phrase: “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes”. Now, isn't that the essence of the type of self-evident test that John Kerry was describing. And is a powerful nation that exhibits a respect for the opinion of mankind likely to be perceived as a threat, or rather as a leader? Is it likely to be seen as a force for economic and military instability, or as a respected citizen of the world? Would it exist as an ultimately despotic, hegemonic power that needed to be overthrown, or as a trusted leader of a family of nations moving together towards a brighter human future? Let me suggest that the answers to these questions should be, as Jefferson might phrase it, “self-evident” to anyone vaguely acquainted with the faculty of human reason – the rock upon which the Founders built this nation, but which today so many of President Bush's supporters place so little faith.

The choice before the American electorate is simple but grave. We cannot escape the cycles of cosmic history, but we have the opportunity on November 2nd to choose the fashion through which this nation will meet the inescapable evolutionary challenge represented by Pluto's eventual passage into Capricorn. President Bush and John Kerry have articulated two very different visions for America. George Bush's vision would likely take this nation forward towards a frightful future, one in which we will have lost our way, and have become just another imperial monster on the world stage, in search of a merciful slayer. John Kerry's vision would take the nation forward towards a kinder, gentler future, but also backwards towards a reconnection with our ancestral roots. So choose wisely, and be forewarned that the survival of our great American experiment, at least as we have come to know it, may ultimately be at stake.

Decision 2004: Jeffersonian Democracy or American Oligarchy and Theocracy
John Kerry and John Edwards, The Founding Fathers' Faith Restored.

Matthew Carnicelli © 2004. All rights reserved.

Originally published October 18, 2004; revised October 23, 2004.