For example, there are the "stars" who crowd the media with clownish tactics which seem unfailingly to dominate our attention. Consider our political news and the toxic narcissism of our would-be leader. Consider also the fawning, obsequious flattery that follows in his wake, producing a medieval horror show that tortures our sensibilities and threatens our traditions of civility. Even the worst script writer for grade-B fiction would not write such tragic/comic scenes for fear the public wouldn't accept them. But this ever-performing "star," starved for accolades, succeeds in dominating our mutual life.
Of course, this act in the "big tent" of our political arena is but one parody of "stardom." Other stages vie for attention. Our short attention span appears to crave more and more of less and less: more danger, more aggression, more sensationalism; and less substance, less art that explores the deep nature of our existence, less depth in helping us to live lives that care for one another and our natural world. Such is our "star"-filled universe of media productions in which politics has become a horror show. And again, I am not acknowledging that some creative, worth-while productions exist, but rather that our attention span itself appears to be oriented toward the "star"-gazing fascination with distractions of greed and those who manipulate it.
And so I ask myself, why is it that we human beings are so fascinated with the "stars" and their movements in our movies, sports, preachers, politicians, and executives? But, then again, why not? Consider the fact that most human beings find the night sky fascinating. Even as small children, we delight in looking at the sky -- the changing moon, the shooting stars, the movement of constellations, the designs and patterns the stars make: "the little dipper," "the big dipper," "Aquarius," "Scorpius," "Aries," etc.
The Greek and Roman names of the constellations witness to the human tendency to project meaning upon a surface that compels our interest and attention. In this way, the dramatic characters of our mythological history play out their dramas above our heads and move through the night sky, bringing with them the seasons that rotate through our earth-bound life.
For the young mind, historically as well as biologically, this seeming cause-and-effect relationship enhanced us with a wonder that lingers still. This is so because it is archetypal. The patterns we see in the sky dwelt within us before we projected their "meaning" upon the heavens.
For example, as our Space.com website describes the mythology of Aquarius:
The Greeks linked this constellation Ganymede, the cupbearer to the gods.
According to lore, Ganymede was a good-looking young man who was the
object of Zeus' affection and was brought to Mount Olympus, where he
served as cup bearer to the gods and was granted eternal youth.
Aquarius has also various meanings and associations in other cultures.
Babylonian astronomers identified the constellation as representing the
god Ea, or "The Great One," which was often pictured with an overflowing
vessel. In ancient Egypt, the water bearer's jar was said to cause the spring
overflow of the Nile when it was dipped into the river. The Chinese
astronomers viewed the "stream" as soldiers.
In this centuries-old fascination with stars, we see a deep interconnection with human beings and the stars. They serve as points of orientation in our need to find meaning beyond the experience of our existence on earth. The sense of a greater controlling force that moves the stars in established patterns may have meaning for our orientation on earth as well.
And indeed that is the case. In previous centuries, we had only the stars to guide our risky journeys across the oceans, for example. And the stars also proved to be a valuable, trustworthy guide on land as well.
One such example was the experience of southern slaves who had only one guide to orient them in their escape to northern states and Canada. That guide was the North Star. Suspended above the earth, perched on the line that would form an axis from the earth's northern hemisphere into space, Polaris, which we call "the North Star,"remains a constant point over our heads around which the northern sky moves like movement of a clock's hands. While other stars move, rising and setting, the North Star remains in the same spot and thus serves as a directional point.
It was because of this natural, unmoving point in the night sky that run-away slaves could chart their route toward freedom. On December 3, 1847, Frederick Douglas founded a publication called The North Star. Douglas himself was an escaped slave, and his newspaper sounded the theme that not only supported slaves in their escape to freedom, but also helped bring an end to slavery itself. The North Star's slogan is worth recalling:
Right is of no sex --
Truth is of no color --
God is the Father of us all
and all we are Brethren.
With this publication, Douglas creatively merged a natural object -- the star -- along with a human fascination with the inexplicable wonder of the night sky, and an escape of humanity from the degradation of slavery. In doing this, Frederick Douglas helped to make each of us a little more conscious, reminding each of us that we need a North Star to escape the smothering slavery of the spirit that possesses us today and shackles us to the present age's slave masters of greed and "stardom."
It is these words of Carl Jung that call us to an orientation of our inner psychological, spiritual North Star.
The more a man's life is shaped by the collective norm, the greater is his
individual immorality. (Collected Works, Vol. 6, para. 762)
The "collective norm" refers to the danger of locating our personal identity and values within a group's mass-mindedness. It is the path of disorientation in which we become vulnerable to the collective psychic epidemics of war, prejudice, and the loss of soul.