So many people lately have been reflecting on 2016 as a hell of a year – chaotic, unpredictable, frustrating, gut wrenching.
With the personal upheaval, the political tension, and the overwhelming uncertainty in the air, many people out there are wondering, “What can I do?”
Lately, I’ve been wondering, “What would Joe Strummer do?” If you’re not familiar with the name, Joe Strummer fronted the Clash. The Clash were a pioneering, politically-charged punk band, one that often spoke up for the underdog.
Joe Strummer died on December 22, 2002, at age 50. A year before, I had met him in person and seen him play here twice in Toronto. I was a huge fan.
Whether you were into punk or not, whether you liked the Clash or not, I feel that Joe Strummer would likely have come out with some wise words to share with the world these days. And of course, he would have taken his message to music.
With the anniversary of his death creeping up, I was inspired to pull a few cards to see what Joe Strummer might do if he were alive today.
The questions I asked were:
1. What perspective would Joe Strummer take to help him stay grounded?
2. What message would he share with the public?
3. What action would he take to create change?
4. What action would he encourage you to take?
5. What would he encourage you to create?
Card #1 – Temperance: “What perspective would Joe Strummer take to help him stay grounded?” This card is about balance and moderation. Joe Strummer would remind himself that this is not a time to go to extremes. It’s not about encouraging black and white perspectives, but in seeing all the shades of gray in between and asking:
“How can we meet in the middle?”
“What might be the best possible outcomes, even if the road we’re on is very dark right now?”
“What might be the light at the end of the tunnel?”
When I turned this card over, my eye was drawn to the angel’s feet – one is on the ground, the other in the water. It made me think that Joe Strummer would make a similar effort to stay grounded in reality, feet firmly planted on the earth, without losing touch with his ideals. It’s easy to float away in water, just as it’s easy to float away on ideals. They can act as inspiration, but all steps taken as a result must have solid ground on which to stand.
Temperance’s message of balance makes sense, too, as Joe Strummer would know that not everyone can be pleased. No matter what the goal, no matter the outcome, there will always be people who are unhappy with the results. And navigating that fact requires a lot of balance, otherwise your equililbrium will be thrown off by the first blow thrown.
This card also carries a strong message of healing. It made me wonder what Joe Strummer would acknowledge needed to be healed within himself. They might be biases, out traumas, or other histories affecting his ability to come from a place where he can rise above and make a productive impact.
Card #2 – King of Cups: “What message would he share with the public?” Joe Strummer would be an open book: His message would come from the heart, and he would encourage compassion and sensitivity. He would ask that everyone look at their neighbours and try to understand where they are coming from. His message might say, “Be open. Tune in. Listen first, act second.”
He would also be careful not to make a knee-jerk reaction, or to act out of anger. The King of Cups is patient, so he’s not one to jump on a bandwagon. I think this is showing that Joe would encourage others to acknowledge their true feelings, reflect on them, and let their inner counsel lead the way.
In other words, let your heart and soul lead with love, rather than allow for the head to lead with temper and ego.
Card #3 – Seven of Wands: “What action would he take to create change?” The action Joe Strummer would take would be to come from a creative place: His rebellion would begin in the mind.
Joe would know he couldn’t take on the entire world at once, so he would keep his energy contained to the things he could control. He would also act on what he felt was most urgent and immediate, the things that are right under his nose.
He would move forward with the question, “What is right in front of me that needs fixing?”
Card #4 – The Devil: “What action would Joe Strummer encourage you to take?” He would encourage you to break away from the negativity toxicity, and corruption that’s holding you back.
I know a lot of people who quit Facebook in recent weeks, feeling discouraged by its often negative, bullying environment. For some, social media might be the Devil.
For others, it might be something entirely different. Who is your puppet master? Question what you’ve upheld: Status is not all it seems. Don’t fuel the fires by keeping the darkness going. Don’t bind yourself to hatred. Break out of old patterns, whether they are your own or society’s in general.
Be careful of what’s being perpetuated around you, and become aware of whether you play a role in that or not. Breaking away from the old overall is important now, Joe might think, so question your own belief systems, for they may be leading you astray.
Are the actions you are taking only perpetuating negativity? Are you allowing for material distractions to run your life? Are you putting money and greed ahead of your neighbours?
The Devil here is showing that something has been rendered invalid. We have gone down these roads before and must find new ones, or else we’ll repeat past mistakes.
Joe might bring up some history lessons to make this clearer.
Card #5 – The Magician: “What would Joe Strummer encourage you to create?” Something that pushes you to put it all on the line. Bare what you’ve got. See that you have the power.
“People can change anything they want to,” Joe Strummer once said, and that’s what the Magician might remind you of, too.
Create something that helps you reclaim your power. Create something that invites others to cross the threshold with you, so that they can be inspired by their own abilities to make an impact.
This isn’t about speaking for others. It’s not about conniving or convincing, either. It’s about claiming space and inviting others to show up how they wish to.
Share whatever stage you are on, whether it’s a physical place or in the online world. It might be as small as your living room or as big as a theatre. Whatever you do and wherever you choose to do it, be honest in your message. Your truth is yours alone, and that can be enough to resonate with someone else.
Now that you know what Joe Strummer would do, what will you do?