On Compromise

3.18.16


On account of the lunar eclipse full moon on Wednesday (Mar 23) in Libra, I'm thinking a lot about compromise.

In this day-and-age I've been observing on the news and via social media, we've convinced ourselves that a willingness to compromise is somehow a sign of weakness…

… as if inflexibly insisting upon our unerring righteousness is the morally appropriate position to take (because, of course, we already know we're right due to our lived experience), even if it means overpowering other people in the process, voiding the validity of their lived experience (because it so brazenly contradicts the conclusions we've drawn from our own), essentially telling them, through our words and deeds, we pretty much don't care what they think (because, obviously, they are so very very wrong).

Encountering the totally uncompromising stance of someone we disagree with can be enough to inspire a certain hopelessness, for it seems there is no room for our distinct subjectivity in the world they've created. We are not singular human beings, worthy of consideration and respect. We become mere symbols of unpalatable ideas, identities, lifestyles… the epitomizing examples of 'everything that's wrong with society today'. With that moralizing abstraction, walls are built, to keep out the 'contaminating factors' (which, might I remind you, are people). Interlopers are sent back where they came from. Each of us curates our newsfeeds and timelines, tightly regulating the informational influences which cumulatively comprise our understandings. One false move, triggering remark or flash of blind-spot ignorance, and they're off the list forever. You're either with us, or against us.

As this lunar-eclipse week progresses, we see both the Sun and Mercury in Aries move into a rolling trine with Mars in Sagittarius, a current star-of-the-show as it pokes toward its oncoming retrograde. This fire-sign synergy boosts our ability to deliver a clear message that this is the direction we intend to head, these are the values carrying us there, and there's little left to discuss beyond that.

Mars in Sagittarius is restless, riveted, keen to 'get somewhere already'… and not, therefore, particularly tolerant of what it perceives as lags, detours, or irrelevancies. 'Life's too short' to dawdle, or to accommodate distracting interruptions or exceptions. The Sun and Mercury in Aries—and thus disposited by Mars (i.e., reporting to Mars for their expression)—allow our self-evident truths to roll off the tongue and support us in gallantly following our own agenda. But we see things only as we see them, unable to get outside our singular perspective unless we actively choose to invite other voices to testify, and to listen without prejudice to another side's viewpoint. Mostly, though, every bit of evidence is easily adopted as more solid proof of the soundness of our case. What isn't vulnerable to ideology-driven interpretation?

Running headlong into the wall of someone else's insistent, inviolable, and/or unforgiving beliefs… encountering that hopeless 'why bother?' reaction toward another's humanity rising up in us, too closely followed by the near-irresistible 'fuck you!' (and often, sadly, a targeting slur, a pepper-spraying, a sharp right-hook to the jaw)… that fed-up-with-society's-bullshit feeling grows so powerful, we consider the most radical steps out of here, anything else seeming preferable to continuing with this.

I quit! I'm done with you! I'm moving out! I'm leaving the country! I refuse to sign off on this, and so I must make my statement! Don't let the door (or my fist) hit you on the way forward!

There may in fact be wisdom lurking in these bold conclusions we draw. We may genuinely know what's true for us (though that doesn't necessarily make it 'The Truth'). But if it's indeed true now, won't it remain just as true a few months from now? How critical is it to make your sweeping statement all at once (bravely, sure, but with a potential overflow of bravado and bluster)?

We know Mars will be in Sagittarius for a long-ass time—through the end of May for starters, and then returning on Aug 2 for another two months—so there'll be lots of opportunities to 'make sweeping statements' with our deeds and life-choices. That's also a rather protracted period during which we'll be tempted to dash ahead too fast, overshoot our mark, and/or prematurely draw lines-in-the-sand. Mars's interceding 2-month-long retrograde (Apr 17-Jun 29) suggests the likelihood of our having to imminently redo certain deeds, redirect our assertive attentions, and/or reconfirm or reject our desires. The farther we've barreled down a certain road, the more effort it'll take to sufficiently revisit that decision later, should it become necessary. Too far, and there's no going back.

The astrological warning-sign: While in Sagittarius, Mars approaches a conjunction with Saturn… which bespeaks of a lesson in how to responsibly utilize our projective energies, to direct our will toward a desired target with both endurance and moderation. We must keep moving, but not so hurriedly or haphazardly that we create disarray, discombobulation, or danger in the process. But Mars never actually reaches Saturn until Aug 24, just after leaving its post-retrograde shadow. In fact, during the months leading up to its Saturn conjunction, Mars is pretty much unfettered by any outer-planet hindrances. That could make it perilously easy for us to overstep Saturn-in-Sagittarius's bounds of appropriate momentum, enthusiasm, and/or singlemindedness—and not recognize the full consequences until the conjunction finally forms late in August.

Lunar-eclipse full moons potently bring to the surface those emotional undercurrents we've been unwilling or unable to acknowledge. In Libra, what rises up is a yearning for interpersonal peace, balance, fairness to all sides—and one standard method used to reach toward this yearning is compromise. Though our first rhetorical impulse may be habit-driven, defensive and self-serving, we simultaneously pine for a coming-together of disparate parties. We might know what is true for us (and cling to it dearly), but we also sense that what we are here to do is NOT right for somebody else. Should we, then, abandon those who dare to diverge? No matter what we believe, we can deploy it as a topical means for dialoguing with others—or brandish it as a weapon to vanquish our enemies, until nobody who forsakes the party-line remains. Is that your idea of community? (It sounds like a dystopian Age-of-Aquarius expression of groupthink to me.)

If we are wisely modest, we must admit we cannot possibly comprehend the Master Plan (if indeed there is one) and do not possess any answer that'll work for everyone. We need oppositional forces to help us understand ourselves better, as sure as 'day' becomes a meaningless concept without the existence of 'night' for contrast. Synthesis is the magical act of uniting apparent opposites into a transcendent result more complete than either of its constituent parts. No answer is so brilliant if it obstinately ignores the other truth residing in its inconvenient shadow.

If we are fortunate enough to hold ample power, we can certainly enforce our answer as the 'reasonable' one—and, in that act, oppress and demonize those who won't accept it—but we probably wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of such tyranny, should we be less fortunate in the power-differential department. And there's no way to get everyone to agree, even by force.

The vilified 'other people' are our neighbors, family members, acquaintances we had some fondness for before they revealed their fuller profile. How would you want them to treat you, a glaring foe to their gospel? How might we compromise, in amplitude or tenor, without selling out our cause? As long as we all must live together (and, yes, we must), we can't afford to shirk this work.