If the world is to be healed through human efforts, I am convinced it will be by ordinary people,
people whose love for this life is even greater than their fear. ~ Joanna Macy
Grace happens when we act with others on behalf of our world. ~ Joanna Macy
The Great Turning is a story of hope here and now. It goes far beyond our current ‘success’ story called ‘Business as Usual.’ It also lifts us above our despairing story of these as the ‘too late’ times of ‘The Great Unraveling.’ In their book, Active Hope, Macy and Johnstone describe three ways in which we can consciously and actively engage (or are already engaging) in The Great Turning.
The first way is to devote creativity and energy to “Holding actions that hold back or slow down the damage being caused by the political economy of Business as Usual….Holding actions that defend our shared existence and the integrity of life on this, our planetary home.” In this first way, we can seek to raise awareness on issues and / or withhold our support. Holding actions are essential. They save lives of people, of trees, of animals. Yet, in and of themselves, they are not enough to stem the tide or to realize The Great Turning.
The second way, therefore, is in transforming systems that cause the harm. We do this by participating in life-sustaining systems and practices through our choices, for example, of what we eat, how we travel, where we shop. Just one ‘small’ fundamental and basic example of this that is in play at this moment: Our food system. We are changing our food system through choices such as buying locally grown, organic food over food grown on industrial farms that use pesticides. We had such a system without necessarily noticing it. We lost it. Also without necessarily noticing it. Now we are consciously reclaiming it. All in a few short decades.
The third way is where the really big picture comes into play. We are evolving and this evolution ties in with our changing collective worldview. Seeing earth from space has changed everything. We see a living system without political boundaries but still limited by boundaries of a different kind; boundaries that can limit or support life: Spaceship Earth in the blackness of space.
I think of this third way as one of choosing to consciously participate in our collective evolution. This means continuously learning and observing while participating such that we remain aware of the bigger context. It also means attending to our personal and spiritual development as a means of deepening our capacity to serve. When we do that we cultivate values of, for example, unity and harmony: Suspending judgment and seeing ‘both-and.’ Belonging and including. Compassion for ourselves and for all of life. Yes, today we have been given the grace of being able to choose this story – a story of hope.
Note on February 4, 2020: I wrote this piece a couple of years ago. Given what is going on in the world today, what with our failing political system, the Wuhan coronavirus and its attendant suffering and potential impact on the thin veneer of our global economic system, and melting ice in both the Antarctic and Greenland rapidly accelerating…just to name a few…I find it challenging to send this as an email. I have days when I can center myself in and comfort myself with the deep knowledge of what the truth is and what is my work to do in honoring that truth. On other days, I fall into the story we are living on earth at this time. Staying true to what I deeply know and with what I have control over (staying present, my awakeness, and my contribution) is a moment by moment practice these days. One of my favorite Rumi quotes is, “Work at least as hard in the invisible world as you do in the visible world.” It reminds me and sustains me. Blessings to you.
Photo: In our yard, Minneapolis, MN.