Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. – Abraham Lincoln
A card that has all too often appeared on my website, the Five of Swords is definitely a challenging one. If you would like to read my more general interpretation of this card, I suggest you visit here, where I last wrote about it, in April. However, when I drew it for the current week, I got a much more direct, specific message from the card.
I believe that it is no coincidence that this card appears during the week of the birthday of the United States. The patriotic 4th of July hoopla is going to be the theme for this week for Americans. I believe that this recurring card has something important to say to us – as a nation, and as individual citizens.
Now that the Cold War is over, the United States has emerged as the only remaining super power. Yet how do we behave? What, now that we are the victors, seems to be our national character? How do we lead? By what examples do we show the world who we are, what we stand for?
I believe that this card keeps coming up, in part, as a warning that the United States is all too often lately a bully who has (for now) an unfair arms and economic advantage, and whose victories are simply fortifying the resolve of those whose interests conflict.
Those victories are likely to become rarer, as we are already seeing in Iraq. Meantime, we turn a blind eye to the gangsters who are currently running our country based on the abuse of power, the twisting and destruction of Constitutional law, and bald-faced usurpation.
The message of this card is about power – how we use it, or abuse it. I think that we are meant to pay very close attention this week to the ways in which we have, or feel we do not have, power in our lives. If we hold the power, how do we then conduct ourselves? Or to win what we desire, do we reduce the conflicting situation to black and white, good vs. evil?
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?”
When accomplished with violence and through harming those with whom we disagree, all victories are hollow and temporary. I hope that as Americans, and as individuals, we can find, instead, the path of peace, tolerance, and respect.
Only when we understand this, will we have true cause for patriotic pride.