The world is becoming darker and darker: deforestation, pollution, resource depletion, right-wing and authoritarian “leaders” emerging everywhere, growing gap between the haves and not haves, climate change, species extinction at a higher than ever rate…
Many argue that Business As Usual has its days counted and either the Great Unraveling (war, famine, chaos, climate change) or the Great Turning will come next…
A lot of people (me included!) ask themselves “what can I do?” “is it enough?”, “why do I have to feel responsible for something that’s so big and I didn’t create?” “what if we fail and the Great Turning doesn’t happen?” and many other similar questions…
First a disclaimer: I don’t have the answers, but I can share what has (and hasn’t) worked for me, as well as my own challenges, struggles, doubts, tools and resources.
My firm belief is this: whether we have a chance to “make it” or not is irrelevant. We are not here for guarantees, to “save the planet” or “save humanity”. None of us will make it alive from this life, and yet, we strive for a meaningful and fulfilling life!
Similarly, not knowing what the outcome will be for humankind or even the planet and all its beings shouldn’t be an excuse for giving up and continuing with a life that is not regenerative, ethical, resilience-building, meaningful and fulfilling…
“In the Agricultural Revolution of ten thousand years ago, the domestication of plants and animals led to a radical shift in the way people lived. In the Industrial Revolution that began just a few hundred years ago, a similar dramatic transition took place. These weren’t just changes in the small details of people’s lives. The whole basis of society was transformed, including people’s relationship with one another and with Earth.
Right now a shift of comparable scope and magnitude is occurring. It’s been called the Ecological Revolution, the Sustainability Revolution, even the Necessary Revolution. We call it the Great Turning and see it as the essential adventure of our time. It involves the transition from a doomed economy of industrial growth to a life-sustaining society committed to the recovery of our world. This transition is already well under way.” (emphasis is mine)
Joanna Macy and co-author Chris Johnstone describe the dimensions of the Great Turning here: https://www.activehope.info/great-turning.html and divide them into:
Joanna also explains the GT here: https://www.ecoliteracy.org/article/great-turning
David Korten, author of the book “The Great Turning”, also explains it in his words: https://davidkorten.org/home/great-turning/
As his books description mentions:
“We cannot avoid the unraveling. We can, however, turn a potentially terminal crisis into an epic opportunity to bring forth a new era of Earth Community grounded in life-affirming cultural values.”
Thomas Berry also spoke about this necessary change, he called The Great Work: “Perhaps the most valuable heritage we can provide for future generations is some sense of the Great Work that is before them of moving the human project from its devastating exploitation to a benign presence. We need to give them some indication of how the next generation can fulfill this work in an effective manner.” (Thomas Berry, “The Great Work,” in The Great Work, 7)
He also said:
“The present is not a time for desperation but for hopeful activity.”
Things you can start doing:
(A guide for discussing and sharing the “Great Turning book”: https://davidkorten.org/wp-content/uploads/TGT_Guide2.pdf )
Some extra resources:
You can learn more about this from Joanna herself:
Or vising the website of one of the groups I work for (Work that Reconnects Network):
Context for the Great Turning: https://workthatreconnects.org/the-global-context/
Three dimensions: https://workthatreconnects.org/three-dimensions-of-the-great-turning/
Personal guidelines: https://workthatreconnects.org/personal-guidelines/