The Great Turning…

My heart goes out…

I was reading a post earlier this week – of a friend championing for social activism – and in the words, I could hear, see and feel echoes of myself…. The times when I felt no one was listening – that I was casting my heart out into the void, yearning for kindness and change – and no one was answering….

That so many people just don’t care…

That of course is not true, and as I came to understand that I learnt more about the different stages of activism – that in order for change to be effective there are four stages or levels of activism. – The front line campaigners, the planners, the new law makers who campaign for new rights and new laws, and the nourishers – the ones who keep the others fed and “topped up”. That someone can be in anyone of those, or all of those, at any point. And that at some point there may be a burn out – that exhaustion phase of feeling of not being heard, not being met. And yet, when we pick ourself up and keep going we enter into a mature, long term, self-sustaining period of growth and activism which comes from transforming despair into action.

Searching for an article I read years ago, I found an even better one, of an interview with Joanna Macy by Madison Mullen, written in 2010. It still speaks to me, here and now, – and so strongly. That gentle, fierce YES – and gratitude for a clarity of vision held by this amazing woman.

In the article, link here, Joanna talks about “The Work That Reconnects”. This leads people through what Joanna calls ​“The Spiral” – a process that begins with ​“gratitude,” moves to ​“grief for the world,” then to ​“seeing with new eyes,” and finally to ​“going forth.” Macy calls this ​“The Great Turning” – a necessary, revolutionary transformation from the present-day industrial growth society to a future life-sustaining society.

Joanna goes on to say this:

“This is a time when such big changes are happening – they’re so big that most people aren’t aware of them. People who lived during the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions were probably not aware that historic forces were underway that would change people for centuries to come. In our case these changes are happening because the mainstream society is not listening, and the current political economy is not working in more and more ways. We’re consuming, we’re making money out of extracting goods from the earth that cannot be renewed. We’re driven by the economy to make money by engaging in processes that create huge amounts of waste – whether it goes into the seas, the atmosphere or the soil – that will contaminate the living biosystems for centuries to come. For life to continue, we must invent a whole new way of supporting human life on earth. That change is coming. It’s not visible to many people because it is not being reported by mainstream media – written press or electronic. But it’s happening and that’s what I see as the third revolution.

What’s happening is breaking through at the grassroots level – in peoples’ minds and behaviors. This is the big adventure, the third revolution that some of us call The Great Turning: the transition from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining society. To be alive at this time, with all this uncertainty, even when we’re not sure we can make it, is our immense good fortune.”

Her goal with The Work That Reconnects is “To open people up to the power of life that can flow through them, to release the energy that we need from each person for creating a life-sustaining society. The main thrust is the assumption that we are lucky to be living now, that we don’t need to be afraid of our pain for the world, that we can turn it inside out and see that it comes from our inter-being with all life forms, that we can speak for other life forms. We are in league with life. I see that The Work That Reconnects brings out peoples’ laughter, strength, collaboration; it brings them from loneliness into community.”

She says, of The Work – “We start with gratitude because that helps us be fully present, and shows us that we have a right to be here in this miraculous world. This evolving life on earth is a wonder, and gratitude helps open our senses – our hearts and minds –to this miracle, to this beauty. It brings us into presence, and I have come to realize that the most precious gift that we can give our world is to be fully present to it. Gratitude is a revolutionary act because it counters the thrust of the industrial growth society, or the consumer society, which breeds dissatisfaction. You have to make people dissatisfied with what they have and who they are in order that they keep buying.”

This is only a snippet of the whole of the article, but it reminds me to keep going, to keep connecting, to keep opening up, to keep practising gratitude, to keep caring, to keep taking one small step…

If you would like to read the whole, you’ll find it here: Four Steps to a Better World.


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