How Well Do You Get Along With Everyone?


Okay, so, maybe nobody except the late great Mother Teresa and her saintly ilk get along with everyone… and for all we know, even she harbored a secret resentment or two toward people who did her wrong or (for lack of better terminology) simply had 'energies' that clashed with her own.

But 'getting along' with people doesn't necessarily mean you must personally like them, does it? No. Perhaps you have a lot of friends, or perhaps you may only truly care about or enjoy the company of a few individuals in the world. Yet, there's always that larger group of acquaintances and colleagues and cohorts and community members present in your life with whom you are obliged to form casual cordial bonds… or at least (appear to) tolerate. Often, in the act of getting along, a certain impersonal detachment is required.

Some of us are better than others at establishing and maintaining said cool in these social situations. We might suffer from discomfort or anxiety, avoiding parties and crowds and any unnecessary social interaction at all costs. Or we may be so drenched in our own subjective experience—our feelings and passions and triggered reactions—we cannot help but radiate our entrenched judgments and preferences (a la 'If I don't like you, I don't like you. Period. The end.'), which jeopardizes our getting-along capacities.

The most successful getting-alongers are able to disengage from their personal prejudices and emotional investments when encountering less intimate members of their social network. They are willing to meet others on more neutral terms, to accept each one as the quirky one-of-a-kind individual he/she is, without expectation of adherence to the status quo. They grant the same respectful freedom to others (regardless of whether personal affinity accompanies it) that they expect for themselves in return, since they know keeping the gears of the social machine oiled is not all about them, but for the benefit of the greater whole. Among the zodiac signs, Aquarius is this successful people-person.

Aquarius is the name of the game this week, with Tuesday's New Moon joined by Venus, Mercury and Neptune to total five planets in its domain at once. Many astro-novices mistake Aquarius for a water sign because its symbol is the water bearer, but that is a serious error. After all, water is too… wet. Aquarius is an air sign, the element of suave social exchange and that exquisite intellectual insight which only comes from some degree of emotional distance. Aquarians 'bear the water' for their zodiac brethren by being fair and accepting of eccentricities, helping to ease others' emotional burdens of self-judgment and self-repression, without necessarily getting too personally involved. That's why Aquarius is considered a sign of humanitarianism, progressive ideals and social unity…

And that's what makes Aquarius the perfect TV talk-show host.

Ellen Degeneres, a classic Aquarian, launched her successful daytime show last year as a showcase for her comedy, which is largely based on turning a magnifying lens on those mundane details of everyday life we all encounter. Playing off that tone, Ellen displays her knack for demystifying the untouchable in the celebrities she interviews, often showing her guests are 'just like us' by having them partake in silly humbling activities with her, whether it's Britney Spears demonstrating her favorite abdominal exercises or Rob Lowe careening down a giant inflatable slide. Without intending to, Ellen made her trademark a daily dose of dancing, after audiences responded so well to an offhand ad-lib. The appeal of Ellen's dancing is quintessentially Aquarian—her style is neither flashy nor particularly skillful, just a goofily free-spirited jig to her own drummers' beat that inspires others to do the same without being too self-conscious and inhibited.

Jerry Springer, another Aquarian host, exhibits the sign's more unceremonious populist tendencies on his show, where expectations of the (supposedly) unexpected have turned him into the uncontested 'ringmaster' of an endless human circus. Though snobbish critics easily denounce the show for its crude defiance of 'good taste', Jerry refuses to apologize for highlighting 'alternative lifestyles' that call into question our prevailing puritan sensibilities or to publicly condemn his guests with imposed judgment—though, like any good Aquarius, he likely doesn't choose to spend his private time with those whose lives he champions on the public stage. Love him or hate him, Jerry Springer rests the inane spectacle of his show upon the same rather intelligent liberal ideology that underlies his new post as talk-radio commentator, prelude to a possible future return to politics (he's a former mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio).

The queen-mother of them all, of course, is Aquarius wonder woman Oprah Winfrey, who has created a billion-dollar media empire on the strength of her ability to connect with all kinds of people. It would be hard to sum up Oprah's monumental Aquarian contributions to the world, except to say that her against-the-odds rise to the top and her non-denominationally-specific emphasis on the role of spirit in transforming our lives have helped inspire compassion and positive change in the lives of millions. Maybe that's why so many see her as a dream candidate for the US presidency, a symbol of the same 'of the people, for the people' temper embodied by past popular Aquarian presidents Lincoln, FDR and Reagan. (Yes. Reagan.)

To honor this holy triumvirate of TV Aquarians, along with the five-planet concentration in their sign, this week I suggest getting in touch with your inner talk-show host. The goal is not necessarily to engender true fondness for everybody, so much as to do your part in creating a safe space in which every friend and father and free-spirit and freak can have his or her say. Model your own most quirky dance move or some other daring feat of self that majestically demonstrates how unashamedly weird you are. Defend the rights of others to live and let live, and be open to constructively criticizing tradition or nature in the process. Strive for fearlessness in reaching past the confines of your usual life, to stand as an example of successful breaking-out and breaking-free. And share enough of yourself to keep the conversation vital and interesting, while holding back enough to maintain the personal distance necessary for coping with the stimuli.

If not for you, then for the sake of the viewing public… do your best to get along with everyone.