Dear Friend and Reader:
Who dreamed that millions of women, and their friends, would take to the streets around the world on Saturday, Jan. 21, starting the New Regime with a roar? Well, someone did: urban legend is that it all started with a Facebook event page that went viral, and a permit for 1,000 protesters. Stranger things have happened.
There have been few times — I cannot remember many others — when I looked out at the world and was consciously grateful to have lived to see that day.
At around 5:30 Saturday evening, when the crowd from the women’s march on New York City was dispersing from Trump Tower one block away, I was floating in a sea of calm, confident and content faces of women.
It was like being on another planet. I was in bliss. The clever picket signs and the pink pussycat hats and the friendly vibes made 1/21 one of the happiest days of my life, and of my political journey.
At that moment, I had no idea what had happened in Washington, D.C., though. I got back to my hotel and, after a few hours, finally turned on the TV to stunning video of the rally in Washington. It was jaw dropping.
As for you, it was painful to endure 18 months of one man’s insults and accusations, which were directed at women, and at darker-skinned people, and the weak and disadvantaged.
The bragging about sexual assault; reading the federal civil complaint of someone who claimed to have been held hostage and repeatedly attacked by the candidate and an associate; and the vitriol directed at Megyn Kelly for calling him out on years and years of nonstop misogyny, all would have been difficult enough to endure on their own.
It was challenging without being confronted by all the enabling behavior, the excuse-making, and the bravado, all capped off by the majority of white women voting for him. I felt this as a personal and collective betrayal. But they may have done us a favor by helping install someone who is genuinely a petty tyrant and is demonstrably psychotic.
Then the big day came, Inauguration Day, which was cold and glum and rainy, both where I live and in Washington, D.C. We all heard the new president’s dark, macabre view of his country, and about how the carnage ends now: as if the Crips and Bloods will beat their swords into plowshares to honor the new emperor.
We heard his laughable statement that this particular inauguration has “very special meaning because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.”
You can find descriptions of the president’s behavior many places in the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual). He is an obvious abuser, and is triggering many people’s past injuries. Yet what he and his cohorts suffer from most of all is the lack of irony. The painful void of any humor, any sense of self-reflection, the meekest hint of wit.
It was grim, watching him stroll around surrounded by a regiment of Secret Service agents trained to give their lives for him: to dive in front of a would-be assassin’s weapon. After a while I could not stand it, and went back to writing the monthly horoscope. When the going gets tough, astrology is a good way to relax.
Saturday came, and I headed down to the city with a friend. When we got to town, the traffic warnings were flashing AVOID MIDTOWN. I did not associate this with the throngs at the New York City march. I had no expectations that many people would care enough to turn out. I figured it would be the usual few remaining baby boomer hippies wearing peace buttons. I am so happy I was very, very wrong.
The other shoe had dropped. There was a finally response to the vicious, persistent mistreatment of women that we had endured, coming from a man who aspires to be emperor. The concept of an “equal and opposite reaction” or an out-breath or some statement of collective strength, some resistance, some will for some other notion of reality, actually happened.
I recognize that one day of protest can mean very little. No real commitment or discipline is required. I was at the global F-15 protest in Seattle, and I was amazed: the world had come out against the pre-emptive bombing and invasion of a country that had never once aggressed against the United States. The anti-war movement went nowhere. All we really got was Code Pink. Bush War II went on and on and on, and continues to this day.
The Occupy protests built up and were crushed, and never matured into a real political movement. The power was never harnessed. It was a beautiful moment — and a real loss. We need to analyze and understand the reasons for this. Along the way, I’ve seen many movements come and go, many people who could have mustered up some power give up. So I’m not really that optimistic about citizen action, though I do my best to encourage involvement with every word that I write or speak.
On Saturday, though, I felt different. Something moved, and was moving. I felt moved, and was moving. Walking down 6th Avenue felt like strolling through a dream. That long row of ultra-modern skyscrapers, bathed in fog and city light, and the peaceful faces of protesters everywhere, making eye contact with me. I felt like I was living far in the future, safe and content.
It’s All About Women
Over many years of observing, covering, provoking and imbibing politics and social movements, starting around the time of the second Nixon election and Watergate (age eight or so), I’ve developed a theory of what is wrong with the world.
What is wrong is the treatment of women. In my view, this is the root of all other problems. The dismal treatment of women — and the underlying impulse that leads to such conduct — is in my view the root of all evil.
I know there are a lot of other theories going around. My AP European History teacher said that all of history is the struggle between the haves and the have-nots (this supports my theory, but it’s not enough).
I’m hip to A Course in Miracles and its metaphysics, which says that fear is the whole problem, right down to how we got into bodies. This has some merit, despite the words she or her not appearing anywhere in the entire course. In reality, despite its language, the Course trains its students to access the indwelling, feminine aspect of God known in some traditions as Shekinah, and in Christian terms as the Holy Spirit.
My theory is that all the world’s problems — all of them, whether social, political, military, economic, sexual, or whatever — are the result of the lack of respect for women and for the feminine aspect of consciousness. Both the treatment of female-bodied people, and the place in society of everything that’s under the domain of the right brain, are the problem.
Remember, and it’s easy to forget, that we are all gestated inside of women, and born of women. The female body is the seat of creation, of all known existence, because we’re the ones doing the knowing. To rage at existence, as so many do, is one breath away from raging at She who gives us life.
This carries into Tantric tradition, which views the feminine aspect of the universe as the source of all of existence; the male aspect plays an exceedingly small role. Enlightenment is attained by making peace with female as creator and destroyer, in the form of Kali.
Language, mathematics and rationality crush (and are used to crush) all that is creative, intuitive, poetic or receptive: the feminine aspect of consciousness. The very existence of the alphabet, its pervasiveness, and all of society’s obsession with it, played a vast role in creating this state of affairs.
The ability to turn the abstract nonsense of letters into a representation of the universe changed all of perception, reworked neurology and conscoiusness, altered the senses (particularly vision), threw the senses out of whack.
Marshall and Eric McLuhan wrote that all war is the war between the hemispheres of the brain. This translates into the war against women and the feminine.
Make no mistake: it exists. Just because few women and next to no men admit that it exists does not mean that it doesn’t. Like racism, true misogyny is not merely bigotry; it’s structured into the bricks and mortar of society, into its neurological patterns, and into our DNA.
We see evidence of this in the current (and rather enduring) battle over reproductive rights, in which the female body is the battlefield. Is there any other way to explain putting right-wing justices on the Supreme Court, intent on taking away Roe v. Wade, when 70% of the American population is in favor of it?
Making abortion illegal will make it unsafe; it will kill more women. Making birth control illegal will cause more pregnancies and therefore more injury and death from illegal abortion (part of the same agenda: Roe v. Wade is based on the famous Griswold v. Connecticut decision, and the Cons want to rid the world of Griswold as well). Why are men deciding this? Why are they doing it? There is a reason. We might also ask why so many women support them.
Reproductive rights are personhood rights. Anyone who lacks autonomy over their body is a prisoner or a slave. This is about enslaving and imprisoning women: under any plan I’ve heard, banning abortion would mean making it a crime. The plan is not just regressing to ‘a woman’s place is barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen’. If abortion is a crime, then so too will miscarriage (which often happens naturally) be a crime.
The ongoing heating and contamination of the environment is war on Gaia, who is our Earth-mother, who entirely supports our lives. This is being done by corporations, nearly all of which are controlled by men.
I could go on, and on, and on.
A few weeks ago I had a life-altering experience. Working with a professional dominatrix, I was put into the body and consciousness of a woman. This was done in a series of steps that included experiencing some degradation, being dressed in women’s clothing, spoken to as an inferior, being subjected to pain, having my hands tied and then being introduced to everyone as Erica, the prettiest girl in the room, clearly intended as an insult.
We were not merely acting. She was good: she knew what she was doing. I am psychically mobile, and I felt my inner reality shift. My orientation in physical space rearranged itself as I watched and felt. I was transformed into an object. That’s what objectified means. It has nothing to do with “objective.” It means to be made into a thing. With this came the feeling of being a center of attention and at the same time, muted. Silenced. Like I had no right to speak unless spoken to, and even then, I did not have anything to say. I was on the verge of tears and could barely nod in agreement when I agreed with something.
This was not some mere psychological trick. I felt the world and my relationship to it change. It was the mix of having attention focused on me as a thing, but being muted, afraid to speak, shorn of my usual potent access to words, that was the most stunning aspect of the experience. In an instant — the space of about 20 minutes — my attitude had been completely repositioned. I suddenly grasped, on an instinctual, body level, why so many women need to be asked questions: it’s permission to speak. That silence used to frustrate me to no end. Suddenly I had empathy for it, and a better idea how to speak to those who are silenced, and the urgency of listening carefully.
So when I heard Amy Jacobs’ recordings of hundreds of thousands of women chanting, “Stand up, fight back!” I got how meaningful that was, on an existential level.
Those voices mean everything. Those voices are revolutionary. The Pussy Riot went right to the White House, right to Trump Tower, flooding every single TV station and innumerable internet sites, and the president and his advisors were watching. I could feel their fear. I could feel his fear: the very entity that terrifies him the most, woman, was literally out in the streets in numbers too big to ignore.
There’s just one little problem. Being silenced and having reduced rights, or none at all, absolves one of responsibility. To claim one’s rights and privileges, to speak up, to express power, all demand responsibility — and that is terrifying to many people. In the apt words of Erich Fromm, it’s why humans so often try to escape from freedom. If there’s going to be a real social movement, we need to address this troubling and persistent fact of human nature.
Uranus Conjunct Eris
There are many interesting facets to the astrology from Saturday; the protest had Pisces rising, and all those planets now in Pisces were in the 12th house. Venus and Mars were conjunct Chiron. There are many other details. However, there’s really one thing that counts: the Uranus-Eris conjunction.
This conjunction is in the background of everything, and it’s now coming to the forefront. We’ve been living with it for a long while, but we didn’t know it at the time. Eris, discovered in 2005, makes one of its first stellar appearances during the conjunction era in the chart of the iPhone, in 2007. If we’re wondering how everything has got so wiggy, how we got into this “alternative fact” zone, or how any of this even happened: Uranus conjunct Eris.
It’s the sigil of our times. It’s the geist in our zeitgeist. It’s the thing to look to for the utterly ridiculously widespread crisis of identity, the obsession with appearance and glamour, the void of all context, the blatant and bald-faced lying, and the generally strange times in which we are living.
I’ve said that this is the biggest thing since the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of 1965-1966 that sparked what later became known as the Sixties. It’s similar to the Uranus-Neptune conjunction of 1993 that precipitated the total rearrangement of geopolitics, the dissolution of the USSR, and many other events of that era. These aspects tend to have long and far-reaching effects. In a sense they begin and then they never end.
It’s similar to the Chiron-Eris conjunction of 1971-1972 that came with second-wave feminism, women’s lib, Roe v. Wade, the first woman to ever win the National Book Award (Adrienne Rich, for Diving Into the Wreck), and many other developments of that era, such as the environmental movement and the Back to the Earth movement.
You might think of Uranus conjunct Eris as being the sum total of all of these. Pluto is in the aspect pattern (it’s still square Uranus, and about to square Eris). Neptune is in the aspect pattern (Uranus is currently semi-square Neptune). Chiron is tucked into the pattern, hanging out 30 degrees from Uranus and Eris. We’ve got everything, all at once.
The Uranus-Eris conjunction represents a simultaneous collapse of identity and of consensus reality. The nature of this aspect is that it starts on the individual level and then multiplies out into society, through personal experience, motivation and choice. Who you are becomes who we are. Who we are becomes who you are. Robots are in the equation, since we are all telepathically connected to the internet.
There will be some very troubling developments under this astrology; the upheavals have just begun. The single most reassuring fact is that people responded with their bodies, making reference to their bodies. One profound effect of Uranus-Eris has been a widespread effect of disembodiment.
It’s converted life into an astral experience. To be in the “digital haze” means to be disembodied. That people responded by physically showing up — right here in the age of disembodiment — makes this event all the more meaningful.
The pervasive theme of reclaiming the body is something I found to be profoundly reassuring, after documenting for so long how digital distorts and diminishes the body. In particular, the association of feminism with the female body, and with sexual rights per se (not just somewhat abstract ‘reproductive rights’) is what I found to be the most reassuring about this wave of protests.
And then there’s one other thing. Eris, known by the Romans as the goddess Discordia, is ready to rumble.
Provoked and precipitated by revolutionary Uranus (who resembles fire thief Prometheus, the awakener), Eris has more power than we’ve ever consciously known. And she is pissed off. It might have been an easy call to predict an uprising of women under this astrology; I was not so optimistic.
Both Uranus and Eris function through subversion. We will have many surprises ahead of us. Personally, for individuals, this aspect functions on two main levels: it can represent the subversion of identity, or a revolution of identity. You choose which one you want, though this may be something you must decide over and over again, every day. And trust that as you do, many, many other people are doing so.
Meanwhile, I wonder whether Herr Drumpf realizes what he has unleashed. It’s way long overdue.
Planet Waves Monthly Horoscope for February 2017 #1136 | By Eric Francis
Aries (March 20-April 19) — The great adventure has begun. The times, they are a-changin’. And who are you really? That’s the journey, and that’s what you are ready to discover. You have so many possibilities, and yet you so often approach life the same way. You’re under some intense pressure to set yourself free. But free of what? An idea about who you are, which seems to dictate how you relate to the world. This looks like a search for gender identity. Your feminine side is calling you; she’s trying to get your attention, though she’s having some challenges expressing herself. It’s as if you’re hearing but not listening. Let yourself be drawn into your inner life, and if you feel resistance, remember that this is one of the most fearsome things a person can do. Many pressures you’re under are designed to draw you outside yourself. Yet your inner awareness, your imagination, your ability to feel who you are rather than tell yourself who you are — all of this is calling you. You’re being invited into your own inner sanctum. Don’t fall for the glam, the commercial or what your social media accounts claim about you. Turn toward the unknown and take your time getting there. In those moments when you feel the least comfortable in your skin, when you feel restless, when you doubt yourself: that’s your invitation, easy to miss.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You are a catalyst in a group initiation of some kind. By this I mean that the evolutionary steps you’re taking are having an influence on the people around you. As you grow into yourself, you’re opening the way for other people to do so as well. As you become more confident, people around you are finding their confidence. As you develop your skills and deepen your commitment level, those who depend on you are becoming stronger in their mission. This truly is “leadership for the new age,” in that your example seems to be what is leading others. Yet it goes much deeper than this. There’s something in the spiritual chemistry of how you mix with others that’s having the deepest effect. It’s not what you’re doing but rather who you’re becoming that is influencing others. Therefore, you can take bigger risks being yourself. Yes, in times past, you may have threatened people by being bold and real, and by expressing your true competence. Now your ability to do so sets an energy pattern that others can follow, including certain members of your family. Now, if your existence gives people permission to be who they are, you’re the one who gives yourself consent to be who you are. Once you get the hang of this, you’ll be wondering what all the fuss and resistance was about.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — New ideas about relationships are calling you, though existing situations in your life need your attention. Humans tend to have a difficult time coming up with a clear yes or a clear no. They also have challenges with a clear hello and goodbye. Taken together, these four values comprise the most important boundaries you can have. They are the gas, brakes and steering of your life. Saturn in your opposite sign Sagittarius is saying that it’s time to put your hands on the controls of your life and master these basic concepts. It’s true that you have the question of what to do with your existing commitments. The real question is: whom and what are you truly invested in? Be clear with yourself about this. There’s no point wasting anyone’s time with the appearance of commitment when your soul is not really there. Nobody really wants to pretend, or wants you to pretend. One clue that may seem materialistic (but is actually more metaphysical) is to notice when and on whom you like spending money. This is a good indicator of love, specifically, noticing where your energy flows easily. Time will give you similar clues. Around whom do you not feel rushed? Who do you always have time for, no matter how busy you are? Alternately, if you feel guilt, you’re getting a message that a situation is bad karma. Trust yourself.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — You’re in an excellent position to transform your financial situation: to get some new clients or gigs, and to renegotiate some existing ones. Yet the basis of this is a discovery that you make about yourself, which establishes in your own heart the value of your work. There’s a parallel discovery about offering yourself rather than sacrificing yourself. When you give yourself sincerely, it will feel as if you gain rather than lose something. You will feel the actual experience of how ideas increase when they are given away. Your solar chart also describes a scenario you should be aware of. There’s some situation that’s easy to see and that’s getting your attention. There’s some other object on the radar — whether it’s an idea, an offer or an opportunity to work with someone — that’s subtler and easier to overlook. Therefore, take some time to turn your attention from what you’re focused on, and from what seems the most important, and look around for what seems (at first) to be less significant. Look and listen carefully. This might involve someone considerably younger than you are, whose thoughts would be easy enough to dismiss. Or the value of your own idea might not be obvious at first. In truth, this is likely to be the most interesting thing you have going on, and it will develop nicely.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — This month’s Full Moon in your birth sign (exact Feb. 10) is inviting you to break consensus and do what you want. It would seem that there’s a committee of some kind saying you must live the way you supposedly agreed to, and that if you don’t, bad things will happen. Whether this is implied or being stated outright, I would encourage you to question this notion long enough to walk through an open door and try something new. You don’t have to live your life by consensus. The thing is, Leo is both an individualistic sign, and also one sensitive to the needs of the group or the tribe. Once you understand this about yourself, it will be easier for you to have some balance in your life. However, at first, you may feel like you’re stealing. But you cannot steal yourself. Your life is your life — it’s really that simple, and anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is playing a game that can only happen with your consent. What is the actual nature of your commitments to others? What exactly did you promise them? And what was your promise to yourself, before they even met you? That’s the true promise you must keep. As you do that, as you reaffirm your commitment to yourself, certain partners are likely to rise to the occasion with you.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You’re making some excellent strides establishing your emotional independence. You can use your circumstances to help you. For example, physical space is one of the most helpful tools in the quest to assert who you are. You need space to yourself, and plenty of it. Take the initiative and create that for yourself, whether you have to ask everyone to go out for the afternoon, find a place to hide for a day or two, or get a room of your own somewhere. There is one question that your solar chart is presenting, though: to what extent do you link sex with marriage? This might be in the most literal sense, of thinking that sex is only appropriate in wedlock (this idea somehow persists, even if meekly), but it’s more likely to take the form of an erotic encounter being an implied contract of some kind (a boldly persistent idea). This is the hook. Whatever you may choose, you must set the terms of the agreement where an intimate experience is concerned. Take leadership; state your terms and your expectations. Ask for these things from anyone you share yourself with. You have just enough detachment right now to see through the fog and come up with some original ideas. You’re much more adventurous than you let on; society has invented all kinds of devices to deal with people like you.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You are big enough to handle anyone’s erratic behavior. You are broad-minded enough to handle the self-centered way that many people act. But how much do you want to endure? Notice when your patience is on half-empty rather than when it’s running all the way out. Notice who consumes the most of your resources. And most of all, notice who notices you — that you’re a person with feelings, desires and needs. Those are the people you want in your life: individuals capable of taking care of themselves and who offer a measure of mutuality. You would probably say that’s tops on your list of qualifications for partner or friend, though how often does it work out that way? At the moment, it’s easy for you to get drawn into the service-to-others thing in a way that can go out of control. This calls for conscious decision-making. Be aware of the commitments you’ve made to others and the extent to which they are expecting or demanding more than what you’ve offered. You might also notice when someone is mirroring back to you one of your own tendencies that you want to let go of. The more you work on yourself, the less tolerant you will be of people who do anything less than honor your full personhood. You must treat yourself well first, and others will follow suit.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Remember that experiments are just that: the exploration of experience, and of your awareness. You have a few of these going on in both your personal life and your less-personal work life. Notice the overlaps and the connections between them. People are people, no matter what supposed role they play. The whole issue of appropriateness is over-rated, as you know, and you may find yourself crossing various lines this month. The one thing to be careful of is where sex meets money. The one place that calls for a boundary is where your financial life meets your amorous life. This is less about spending money and more about who controls it. Keep a grip on your business affairs, make your own decisions and then be as generous as you want. Nothing you say or do implies that you’re anyone else’s property. If anyone gets that idea, you’ll want to notice, so listen for the subtle clues. Your life is a kind of gift economy, wherein people have the opportunity to share with one another. Yes, this goes against the grain of our whole economic system and the prevailing theory of relationship. You have the strength and the integrity to stand up to this in your own life. You are your own person, and everyone will be happier for recognizing that basic fact.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Saturn is in your sign, and that may describe certain emotional challenges you’re facing. It might seem as if these challenges are coming from outside you. Yet your inner life is where the energy is flowing, which includes your emotions and also how you respond to events in your environment. You’ll make more progress on the kinds of maturity that Saturn is here to teach if you keep your locus of awareness internal. Spend as much time alone as you can, and really feel what amounts to a world that you contain. You’re integrating certain experiences from your distant past, on the way to finding your way to the present. This will continue through the late winter and into the spring. Yes, it’s more typical for the Sagittarian quest to be an adventure in the world. It’s bolder and more daring to take your desire to unravel the mysteries of the planet into your own heart and soul. As you do this, your relationships will change. You will be more sensitive to how you feel about people, and you’re more likely to notice the subtle influence they have on you. And when you branch out into the world, you’ll notice different things and feel more connected to your inner core; more receptive and approaching a more harmonious state with the people around you. Go in before you go out.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Pluto in your sign is still pushing, pulling and stretching you, though I also hope you’re getting the message to aspire to bolder and more interesting things. That means having an idea of what’s bold and interesting to you, and reaching beyond your current circumstances, particularly in your profession. Make sure you aspire to what you really want, just in case you get it. That’s the whole thing with success: it’s demanding. Once attained, it often feels like you must earn it again every day. If you claim to have some knowledge, one of the first things you’re likely to discover is how much you need to learn; and something must motivate that process of education. Let that be love: not the love of image, or of appearance, or of the idea of something, but the actual thing itself. Have as few illusions as you can, lest you become disillusioned; and if you do, be grateful when illusions are replaced by something closer to reality. It’s a delicate balance, between reaching to exceed your grasp, and taking on too much responsibility — and there may not actually be a point of equilibrium. The one thing you can do, over and over again, every single day, is resolve to be true to yourself, and make each choice consciously. Then verify again and again that you’re actually faithful to yourself.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Take the time to put your feelings into words, and share them. Size is not everything, though I suggest this be longer than a tweet. Reach into some of the unusual depths that you’ve been feeling, and that may be daunting. It is, however, the expression and sharing that will help you validate your experiences, and keep your exploration going. If you keep silent, you won’t hear yourself as clearly. If you don’t write down your thoughts, you’re less likely to remember what ground you’re covering. It’s not just your arrival to a new place that counts (and such is inevitable). Rather, it’s how you got there that matters. Remember that this is a spiritual journey, and its most interesting places are symbols and ideas — and these are easy to forget. Treat each event or episode in your life as an initiation, which teaches you something, changes you slightly and significantly, and leads you to another place. As you do this, you’re closing gaps and spaces inside yourself, rather than trying to fill them up with something less fulfilling. You’re healing cracks in your psyche and openings in your emotional body. Your overall direction of travel is toward being a more solid, dependable and grounded person. And this is all preparation for something else, for experiences vastly different from what you’ve ever had before. Therefore, make friends with the unfamiliar.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Practice feeling good about yourself. It’s a skill that you’ll learn over time, though you’re being helped significantly by a factor you might not have expected. The one issue that you’ve been affected by the most deeply, the one you thought you could never resolve, the one that’s vexed you for years, is finally giving way. Part of what you’re doing is establishing a correct relationship to the past. You know that you cannot just stow it away. You know you cannot drag it around with you. You know that you cannot hold every relationship to the standard of what’s happened in the past. You’re releasing the toxic effects of what you’ve been carrying, and at the same time, you’re learning to claim the most positive lessons from what you went through. This conversion process is the essence of emotional and spiritual healing. Claiming the knowledge and experience you’ve gained, and allowing it to change you, is far more than positive thinking; you might think of it as positive becoming. One image from your solar chart is about embracing the different opposites that you contain within you. Those polarities might be your inner male and female aspects, or any seemingly competing desires or values that you observe. Part of the maturity you’re growing into involves allowing yourself to expand, and embracing those oppositions rather than fighting them.