As tarot readers and enthusiasts we are literally in the business of using symbols and images to make associations between ideas and philosophies and ways of living in right relationship. Contemporary tarot readers also often talk about “tarot ethics” and the delicate artistry of not misleading clients or querents into shifty, shady, or “baiting” readings that lure clients into believing hearsay, opinion, or scam.
…Apparently, if you’re a politician, or a political surrogate, the same ethical rules don’t apply…
What am I referring to? The Trump family engaging in mis-information during Daddy Trump’s campaign run for the office of leader of the “free” world. The BBC and several other news agencies report that Donald J. Trump Jr.—who has been a major if not the primary campaign trail stumper for his father, including meetings with deep southern supremacists and making questionable campaign stops—elected to send out a recent tweet using a visual meme that has been making the rounds on Facebook and Twitter among anti-immigrant and islamophobic online users…
First-off, it’s not a legitimate or compassionate or ethical representation or simile to reduce a population of human beings to a pile of artificially colored candy. Because real, live, human people are exponentially more complex than a handful of inanimate sour candies. (And yes, it felt stupid even having to point that out in that sentence.)
But let me allow some other Twitter responses to more eloquently express why Donald J. Trump Jr.’s “politically incorrect” comparison is just simply incorrect:
Comparing Syrian refugees to Skittles is simply bad form from an obviously ignorant individual. It’s easy to jump on the fear bandwagon after media languishes on violent outbursts around the country and then spends unrelenting hours and days speculating on whether those incidents are terrorist-related, or whether as terrorist-related events the terrorist was American-born or foreign-born or what his nationality or religious affiliation or vacation history might infer…and the American public clings to it all because the media (for better or worse) also chooses what it wants to inveigh in our discourse and with what it chooses to bait our minds and our opinions. The media is often no better than an unethical tarot reader leading a client into fearful reprisals and belief in curses.
We have to remember in our relationship with the media that we are the client who has the opportunity to make choices about the information that is disseminated to us. And we don’t deserve to be scammed…or terrorized with mis-information.
So let’s reformulate this “read-able” image of a colorful bowl of Skittles candies. The Skittles don’t—and can’t—represent people, because people have emotions and feelings and fears and hopes and love and bodies and minds and stories. But we might have been able to use the colorful image of the Skittles as a reflection of any of those millions of facets that make up a human life. For instance, that colorful bowl of candy might represent the colorful diversity that Syrian refugees can bring to a new resettled location. The candy might represent the sweetness of being rescued from the terror of war, embraced by a welcoming and affirming new community of neighbors in a foreign place. The candy might represent a burst of flavor in a community that was otherwise languishing before it was rejuvenated by an influx of new immigrant talent and ideas and friendships… The associations are seemingly endless—just like the endless number of individual characteristics and interesting facets of any human being, immigrant or not.
One of the great exercises that young tarot-reading aspirants can practice is reading some of the tarot deck’s “darker” cards for what their possible positive attributes and interpretations might be. Likewise, trying to read some of the deck’s “positive” or “bright” cards for their more shadow-side reflections can be an equally informative learning exercise. But it is important to remember that in a reading a positive outlook more often garners positive results and a brighter prospectus for the querent. I might even say that it’s part of the job of a tarot reader to provide hopeful and prudent options in a world that too many people might otherwise paint as gloomy and scary.
The question is…do you want your political candidates (or their surrogates) providing you with an outlook of possible gloom and treachery, and a reading of the future that makes you act or vote out of apathy and fear? …Or do you want your candidates (or their surrogates) providing you with an outlook of hopefulness and a reading of the future that make you want to aspire towards generosity, collaboration, engagement, and altruism?
The choreographer Bob Fosse once chimed: “Life is just a bowl of cherries, don’t take it serious, it’s mysterious. Life is just a bowl of cherries, so live and laugh and laugh at love, love a laugh, laugh and love.” This turn of phrase was a variation of the popular 1931 musical arrangement of band leader Jack Hylton, meant to be an antidote to the worries and travails and hardships of the Great Depression.
How far we have come that in a time of prosperity, greed, sloth, and apathy, we have now conscripted a bowl of candy to mean something so much more sinister, and instead of uplifting the spirits of a nation, the imagery is used to spread prejudice and fear-mongering.
What a shame…