On July 2, 1776, the Resolution for Independence, formally known as the Lee Resolution, passed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This statement declared that a group of states were free from the constraints of British colonization just a year after the start of the Revolutionary War. More people are familiar with its revised version, known as the Declaration of Independence, passed on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – America’s place of birth.
Birth is literally the time when a new life takes its first breath outside the womb. Each time we breathe, we exhale the pressures and burdens that we carry within, and we inhale pure, clean, and new air into our conscious beings. 2020 has proven to be one very long held breath.
We have had moments of fluctuating faith during the emergence of the novel coronavirus. The ability to take a deep breath is at the heart of this disease, which attacks the respiratory system. Far too many have learned the value of being able to take a breath without the aid of a ventilator this year. We wear masks, keep our distance, and wash our hands to the tune of “Happy Birthday” to keep our lungs and hearts clear from infection by COVID-19.
Today, we take a deep breath and inhale a renewal of life and energy. In Philadelphia, the birthplace of the United States in July, 1776, we began the fragile journey of life as a democracy. Now, again in Philadelphia, in November 2020, we exhale our fears and begin to breathe new life into our nation’s current 245th year as a democracy. We have learned many and varied lessons over the past 244 years, but the lessons of this past year have been some of the hardest in the history of the United States.
Astrologically, there were many factors that affected life for all of us during the year 2020: the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in January challenged the status quo and the structural base that was seen in turmoil as the U.S. electoral process heated up; the three conjunctions of Jupiter and Pluto in April, June, and November allowed us to see the deeper impact of the events surrounding those times.
In April, the economic recession resulting from a necessary response to the COVID-19 pandemic thrust many into reconsidering what a good life truly needs. The 2020 version of World War I and World War II victory gardens returned. The twin goals of surviving potential infection and death by the coronavirus and maintaining some form of economic stability meant that habits instilled in the Silent Generation – our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents – were now crucial tools in the fight to inhale just one precious breath as a nation.
In June, the U.S. and the world reeled from the question of a single life and whether it would have been taken if the body had not been black. While Black Lives Matter as a movement has been around since 2013 in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s death, the killing of George Floyd sparked months of protests worldwide as the world acknowledged how this one incident again exposed the underlying racial injustice bedrock at the core of American society.
In November, our nation completed the voting process, but not without pain and the exposure of the scabs and wounds of the many who stood in long lines. Unlike most previous elections, this one was held in the astrological quagmire of Mercury Retrograde in Scorpio. We got to see the truth as a nation, regardless of our personal preference. As a divided country, we needed to take a hard look at who we are and who we want to be. Our actual election day saw Mercury station direct, and the hours and days of waiting battered our fragile democratic process.
It is not easy to choose to participate and to live within a democracy. It requires the willingness to take responsibility for our actions as a nation and to speak clearly by choosing and going to vote.
This election tested our democracy’s ability to take a full, deep breath. Would our nation need its own metaphorical ventilator because we could no longer breathe on our own, independent and strong? This was the true question that the election answered.
For many, the 2020 election represented the opportunity to look at barely healed wounds, crusted over scabs that bled from repeated cuts amid the pain of pandemic, economic recession, and racial tension. In a divided country, the transition symbolized by a smooth election begins to start the process of healing. Sometimes we don’t realize how deep the knife has cut you until someone else takes the measure. CNN commentator Van Jones commented on the reality of our current situation:
“You know the “I can’t breathe”? You know that wasn’t just George Floyd. That was a lot of people that felt they couldn’t breathe.” –
Today, I too noticed that I metaphorically could not breathe. Now we must take a deep breath together.
We keep faith, in the best meaning of the phrase, when we support those whom we trust to have the good of the country in their hearts and actions. Our trust in elected officials took a beating during the past two years, but we remain loyal to the principles that we learned in grade school. We examine our values and we have chosen to live by them, especially during the last eight months of chaotic upheaval in our nation.
We keep the faith, despite numerous obstacles, when we choose to believe in the resiliency of our nation. Our relationships with our spouses, partners, friends, and families, conducted through intimate Zoom dinners and raucous backyard celebrations, now are symbols of our divided country. We keep the faith despite differences over the use of masks as a political statement, the practice of social distancing, and our willingness to follow CDC guidelines.
The best part of our democracy is when we can come together, regardless of ideological disagreements. We demonstrate that the strength that holds us together as a population of just over 330 million people is our willingness to state our opinions and to remain true to our country and its ideals. While our interpretation of these ideals may and certainly do vary, as evidenced during all of 2020 and the two-year presidential campaign.
Our challenge in 2020 was to stay true to our path as a nation formed from many. We stood in long lines and voted. We did not let our divisions, a pandemic, or bad weather stop us from participating in the democratic process. (Our slogan is “Out of Many, One.”)
We take a deep breath, even as we know that the road is rocky. We take a deep breath, even as we wash and cover our wounds. We are recovering, breathing on our own as a country.
We are Philadelphia, where many from all backgrounds pack the streets. We begin a new day, a new birth, and we use our lungs. We take a deep breath – and we live. May the gods continue to bless the United States of America as one united family.
Let’s take a deep breath – for liberty – and let freedom ring.