Thursday, July 27, 2017

More on theThe Chariot

The Chariot: Wars and Heroes

“…the hero is commonly the simplest and obscurest of men”
Henry David Thoreau, “Walking”
     In my previous blog about The Chariot card, I wrote about supernatural futuristic concepts and UFO’S as chariots of aliens, or symbols of roundness signifying a desire for unity and wholeness in  expressing concerns about various wars taking place in the world, and the warriors who fight in them. It was more like Science Fiction where the heroes and heroines are Superman and Wonder Woman who fight the forces of evil. Then there is the fantasy some people have that heroic aliens will save us (you know, those little green men). This blog will be entirely different and more about getting in touch with the reality of today. In the Waite Tarot deck, we see the victorious warrior riding in a victory parade – the hero who has won the war. This homecoming warrior can be interpreted in several ways: the literal combatant who succeeded in battle and won; or in another interpretation, for some, it can be the celebration of a cosmic spiritual warrior - of one who has achieved success in the daily attempt of living life rightly. But the focus right now is on the meaning of war and what happens to those who fight.

“The hero is America personified. The heroic ego landed on Plymouth Rock; went with Daniel Boone into the wilds with gun, Bible and dog; stands tall in Tombstone with John Wayne…”
James Hillman, The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling (Random House, 1996)

     The 20th century began with two devastating World Wars. And wars have continued with the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, The Iraq War; the Bosnia/Herzegovina battle; the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict, the Syrian crisis, and now the ongoing war in the Middle East with ISIS. Beginning in 1914, World War I, and then World War II of the 1940’s, resulted in the horrific destruction and devastation of land and cities in most of Europe and Japan. In World War I, warring countries brought about the collapse of the ruling monarchies of Germany, Russia, and the Austria-Hungarian Empire and produced new more deadly forms of warfare: chlorine gas, tanks, planes and bombs.  In World War II, over 60 million people were killed, including those murdered in the gas chambers of Nazi cult death camps. We must recognize that World War II was different than all other wars. With the development of bigger planes and rockets, it was possible to drop bombs and firebombs on entire cities. Then in 1945, in the New Mexico desert, the USA launched the possibility of the annihilation of the whole earth with the development of the atomic bomb, which was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, vaporizing over 200,000 of the occupants and flattening the cities in an instant. We will never know the exact count. (As a small child at that time, my family would gather around the radio to hear the latest reports on the war amidst blackouts in Seattle, where the B-17 Bombers, and the B-29’s that carried the Atom Bombs to Japan, were being built.) Looking back on that time, one wonders what that was all about.  In this so-called civilized age, we must now come to grips with how enormous the threat of total annihilation really is. We can’t continue to ride around on pink dream clouds of wishful thinking about peaceful solutions anymore. Something has got to change.

“For centuries, men have hoped that with history would come progress, and with progress, peace. But progress has simply given man the means to make war even more horrible; no wars in our savage past can begin to match the brutality of the wars spawned in this century [20th Century] in the beautifully ordered, civilized landscape of Europe, where everyone is literate and classical music plays in every village cafe. War is not all aberration; it is part of the family…the crazy uncle we try-in vain-to keep locked in the basement.
“William Broyles Jr. (Why Men Love War, Esquire, November, 1984)

“Victims of war and their families aren’t supposed to interpret their losses for themselves,
they are supposed to leave that to the flags, ribbons, medals, and three-gun salutes.”
Naiomi Klein, “The Mother of all Anti-war Forces “July, 2004 (Commentary on the Iraq War.)

     Drafting young men to fight in the Viet Nam war became a card-burning issue in the mid 1960’s. The on-going anti-war movement began in earnest. Huge anti-war marches and demonstrations occurred everywhere in the US. Young men are no longer drafted today but still must register for the draft, never mind the fact that wars continue. The warriors of the 90’s in “Desert Storm” and up to now, volunteer their courage and bravery to do battle in the war-torn places of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.  This brings up the hard question: What are we supposed to achieve in all this?

     Heroes – What does it mean to go off to battle to defeat the enemy; to give your life for your country? Every soldier must consider this. In the past, heroes were honored for their bravery and commitment to the “cause.” It was the “manly” thing to do. Those that died are remembered on plaques and grave stones around the world.

“When a Roman Hero was honored in his triumphal parade, a masked figure of Death stood at his shoulder in the chariot, whispering in his ear, ‘Man, remember you are mortal’”
Barbara Walker, The Secrets of the Tarot (HarperCollins, 1984)

     What about the “Cold War” of the 50’s and 60’s when the United States and Russia competed in building huge nuclear arsenals? (The balance of terror) We lived under the threat of nuclear annihilation from intercontinental ballistic missiles, particularly during the “Cuban Crisis” when Russia was going to ship missiles to Cuba to point at us. (Movies like “Dr. Strangelove” typified that fear, Kubrick, 1964).  Shortly after that time, we began to channel that fusion energy into nuclear power plants to produce electricity. The United States also continued to test at least 43 nuclear bombs on Eniwetok Island in the Marshall Islands over ten years. Russia was doing the same. What happened to all that radioactivity and nuclear waste dispersed in the atmosphere and oceans? Plutonium 329 lasts for at least 24,000 years and other radioactive isotopes even longer.

“In the days before the first atomic bomb was tested at Alamogordo, Enrico Fermi was said to have taken side bets on the possibility that the whole state of New Mexico would be incinerated.” 
 Susan Griffin, A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War (Anchor Books, 1993)

     The danger hasn’t ended. The potential of nuclear war still hangs over us today with the North Korean leader beating his chest and threatening to send nuclear missiles to the US and South Korea. And South Korea in turn is implementing THAAD, a missile defense system and a nuclear submarine base on Jeju Island. And now, because of further advancement in nuclear fission and the distribution of more nuclear power plants, we must deal with something even more insidious – radiation poisoning. The possible slow, silent, subversive death of the Pacific Ocean and its creatures by the radiation continuing to spill out from the overwhelming melt-down of three nuclear power plants at Fukushima Dai-ichi. There is no end in sight once radiation has been released. The irreversibly damaged nuclear power plant in Chernobyl has finally been covered by an enormous concrete tomb. Will this last an eternity? We are talking about the future of the planet earth here. Remember, nuclear power plants are the direct result of the nuclear development and experiments of the 1940’s in New Mexico. What’s in store for China and the nuclear power plants they are building?

     Meanwhile, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in eastern Washington (where uranium was processed for atom bombs and making nuclear fuel rods) has been in the news recently with eroding tunnels collapsing and radiation leaks. We now know that highly radioactive train cars that delivered nuclear materials in the past, were stored in those tunnels. This brings up the questions: What do we do with all the nuclear waste, some of which lasts for an eternity, eh? (See article in Scientific American, March 2016, “Fukushima today.” What are they doing with all those bags of wastewater?) Do we have a choice in changing this prevarication? Will we ever know the whole truth? Must we go on perpetuating war after war and the threat of nuclear war? Everyone keeps talking about peace, but that has not happened. Is this just a never-ending human condition?

     What does this tell you about the incredible dangers of what these scientists have created with their experiments in nuclear fission? In the Discover Magazine, October 2014, in the article “Precision vs. Profits,” Keith Epstein discusses proton beam therapy used in cancer treatment. He points out that Robert Rathbun Wilson, one of the leaders in the Manhattan Project where the atom bomb was developed in the 40’s, assuaged his guilt about the bomb by applying his nuclear knowledge to the useful application of medicine in the cyclotron, which was eventually used to treat cancer patients.

     When you get The Chariot card in a reading, you can interpret it in many ways, but keep in mind it’s significance in seeing the bigger picture of things. Metaphorically, it is all about the pride of winning and being acknowledged as a winner. This applies to everything we do. Do you have the courage to fight on regardless of the obstacles you face? How do you handle confrontation? Are you keeping up with the rapid pace of changing events in your life? What are you doing to bring war to an end?