“Acceptance does not mean surrender. It does not mean resignation. Acceptance means I am finally available to the entire spectrum of creative response.” ~ Trebbe Johnson
If you have attended a WTR (Work that Reconnects) workshop, read the Active Hope or the Coming to Life books or watched Joanna Macy’s videos on how to do the work, you are familiar with the concept of three stories: Business As Usual (BAU) or the world as we know it and the idea that all is OK as long as we keep doing what we have told and don’t ask too many questions; the Great Unraveling (GU), or the converging of many complex, global crises that include climate change as one of the worst predicaments we have faced as humans (but that also include the potential of nuclear conflict, the depletion of resources, the emerging of dictatorial regimes and further human oppression, the extinction of forms of life that share this planet with us, the pollution of ecosystems and oceans, the loss of connection to ourselves, each other and Nature and many others) and finally, the Great Turning (GT): the type of regenerative, ethical and caring society we know is possible to live in harmony with other peoples, beings, ecosystems and within ourselves.
The past few months have shown, through different reports and news, that the Great Unravelling may be pushing further and faster than we thought, making many of our efforts through social justice, permaculture, transition, lifestyle changes and activism in other fronts dwarf and sound pointless in comparison with the abyss of uncertainty and horror many humans, beings and ecosystems are facing and the likelihood that these horrors soon come to our own backyards.
I want to emphasize this, what I shared in the last Zoom call I offered to some members of the Deep Adaptation Discussion and Action Group I manage: we are privileged because we can still sit in front of our computers and discuss these things that for many of us are not yet reality: we concern ourselves about a “future” that we don’t know whether it will come fast or slow, or how will show up. Understandable, we concern about our own needs (will we have jobs? Access to our savings or pensions? Would our houses stay put if a “natural” disaster or a societal collapse happens here? Would we be able to access clean water, food, medicines and other basic necessities? How would we care for our sick, the disabled, the elders and small children? Should we move to a “safer” place? Where is “safe”? …)
But what we cannot forget is that those situations and questions that fill us with anxiety and fear are not hypothetical for the many already affected in India, Venezuela, Syria, Mexico and many other places where “collapse” is not something they can “think” or “discuss” or even “plan”: it is already happening and forcing them to be displaced, lose loved ones, lose dignity and even their lives.
Take a deep breath…
When I came back to my home country early this year (I haven’t flown for 15 years), I saw one of the many faces of collapse and people trying to continue with some sense of “normalcy” in a country pestered with power outages, floods, heatwaves, broken buildings and sidewalks, broken trust in institutions, pollution, inflation and many other things. My biological family still lives there: mom, siblings, cousins, uncles and aunts as well as many childhood friends. Then, in my second (adopted) country (Venezuela), I still have my in-laws, nephews and a few friends.
I came back asking myself: when things start becoming really bad, where do I want to be? Who do I want to be? And the second type of questions where more clarifying: where do I need to be? With whom I need to be? Where I can be of more help?
They are tricky questions: in my privileged position living and working in a North American country, I am still able to influence others, I am safe enough to speak up and engage in the change of structures, systems and behaviours. I am also still able to earn money and send it to my two families in two broken countries who are already experiencing different aspects of societal collapse.
But when things get really difficult, when money stops to have any value and safety cannot be guaranteed: where would I be of more help?
As some starting points on my own response, I am allowing myself to dig into the four “R’s” from the Deep Adaptation agenda, have posted the “Barriers to Dialogue” by Jem Bendell in a place where I can see them daily so I become more aware of where I may be in denial with my behavior (I use some of them depending on how vulnerable, scared or hurt I feel), I have started a Facebook group to encourage people to go deeper, meet and mentor each other and engage in discussions and actions and I am offering Zoom calls to facilitate this further.
My next step is to incorporate all this in my next WTR workshop at O.U.R. Ecovillage at the end of July (where I also facilitate regenerative economics/livelihood in the context of their Ecovillage Design Education) and will start an in-person DA circle in my region.
I plan to also continue blogging as a way to clarify my own thoughts and emotions and with the conscious intention of spreading these “news” and engage as many people as possible with compassion and the only expectation of engaging with authenticity and solidarity.
Here are the resources you can use
Read these articles on “How we should live” series: https://truthout.org/series/how-then-shall-we-live/
The Good Grief resources (at the bottom of their page): https://www.goodgriefnetwork.org/10-steps/
Or get their 10 steps manual and start a group in your community: https://www.goodgriefnetwork.org/about/
Follow the Work that Reconnects Network (where I work as a coordinator): you can find workshops and events in your region, find Joanna Macy videos, WTR practices and connect with facilitators
Start a Resilience circle in your region
Join the Deep Adaptation Professional Forums