What happened to the Age of Aquarius and to Enlightenment in general?

~a column by Colleen O’Brien

Why is it that at a point of planetary crisis, the world is ignoring the encroaching end that is the result of our bad practices and blundering? I know there are plenty of people figuring out things to save the planet, but, really, the uptick of buying big SUVs and the killing of elephants and hippos, to mention current unreasonable human actions, indicates indifference. Or maybe it’s the sign of fright and a fateful outlook, like when people in the Middle Ages, confronted with the bubonic plague, partied till permanently drunk or they died, or the plague moved on.

I don’t think our plague of the planet is moving on, and I do think that evolution of homo sapiens may be stuck.

Sixty years ago, awareness of the diseases of the planet was barely known except maybe by Rachel Carson, who published Silent Spring in 1962. I was 18 and thought that humankind was doing what it was supposed to do. I might have been uninformed or thinking of other things than the health of the planet.

The decade of the 1960s was busy, what with free love, drugs, war and assassinations. The Vietnam War got more and more TV coverage and finally engulfed so many dead young soldiers and smothered the country’s psyche that we put on hold many things that might have humanized this country (the War on Poverty, for one). 1967 was the “summer of love” in San Francisco, 1968 was anti-war demonstrations plus another dead Kennedy and civil war giant.

We did not get out of ‘Nam until 1973.

Have we been floundering since? What are we doing with an antiquated septuagenarian as Prez? It’s like we’re looking for “Brigadoon”; backward into the mists we go.

Why in the world of joining with others to make life better did England decide to leave the EU? Why is the liberator of Nicaragua acting like the despot he ousted 30 years ago? How come the Russians had so little time for Glasnost and Perestroika under Gorbachev and turned quickly back to a former KGB-trained thug like Putin? Why do so many people in the U.S. fear the death of the Second Amendment and not the death of their children by gun?

We’re in an era full of denial, stubbornness, ignorance and disliking everybody who isn’t in our tribe.

I’m hoping our present behaviors are brief retaliation to fresh ideals of humane consideration, fellow feeling, scientific breakthroughs never used for war; a redemptive time.

I know change frightens the human beast. But, really, you’d think we were in the thick of the Dark Ages, believing in ghosts and a flat planet, dissing all new scientific information gleaned by the scientists who search for clues to our existence.

People walling up their countries as if that would protect them from the plague of the year or the despot of the day is the opposite of a solution.

The Age of Aquarius in the U.S. is associated with the hippies of the 1960s and ’70s and the Broadway musical “Hair.”

When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius
[opening tune of the Broadway hit, “Hair” 1967]

The benign ideal of the Aquarian Age, focused on harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust, stuck around and moved along to be a part of the New Age movement, a form of mysticism from the second century.

So much for that bit of myth that keeps coming back to tickle us. However lovely a concept, it hasn’t worked all these centuries. If peace is going to guide the planets, it better hurry up, because planet Earth might not be around for the blessing.

Science, which is a study, not a belief, has more credibility than astrology or religion as far as fixing things. But science, too, has come upon bad days since the flowering of the Enlightenment — for science has been unable to convince us we are fixable and that we can grow up into an intelligent species.

I don’t believe in astrology, I do believe in science. But I’m wavering. I may devolve into believing it’s angels, fairies and UFOs that will save us.

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