The Great Turning

We live in complex times. Drastic climate change—brought on by human actions—is leading to environmental shifts that are unprecedented in their speed. These shifts are exacerbating pre-existing social challenges, including economic, ethnic and racial disparities. The totality of these crises—rising sea levels and global temperatures, the war in Syria and conflicts elsewhere, ongoing police brutality directed towards black people in the United States, continued marginalization of indigenous peoples, their cultures, sacred sites and lands across the globe and many more—is overwhelming.

Joanna Macy, truly an elder for these times, has described the aforementioned atrocities and other happenings like them as The Great Unraveling, wherein industrial growth societies erode our common foundation of a life-supporting planet and pit people against one another in a cruel and brutal race to stockpile resources at the expense of others.

We cannot ignore or turn away from these very real and complicated issues. Members of the human species have created and perpetuated them—it is our responsibility to solve them. But we cannot approach our solutions with the same divisive mentalities that yielded these issues in the first place. We must work together, for the benefit of all. That certainly sounds like a platitude, perhaps even naïve, but there is no other way. To do so will require thoughtful work, strong partnerships, willingness to engage with tension and to change, and compromise. What we cannot compromise on, however, is the protection of the planet that all beings depend upon for life. Neither can we compromise on the liberation of all peoples (and beings), regardless of how they identify themselves or are identified by others.

Joanna Macy and The Work That Reconnects

For inspiration, we turn again to Joanna Macy. At the same time that our common life support systems on this planet are unraveling, so too are a great number of brave and visionary communities marshaling responses. Macy and others have called this The Great Turning. The various efforts within The Great Turning are broad, from racial and environmental justice to habitat restoration to frontlines indigenous resistance of fossil fuel extraction, and so much more. The breadth and diversity of these beautiful responses is proportional to the scope of the challenges we face; and it is also vital for us to see and remember that the hearts of these various responses are united by a common pulse: the deep longing for a peaceful planet within which communities meet the basic needs of their members and support freedom, justice and dignity for all life, including the more than human world.

Many of the economic, political and social systems in place are driving us towards a very different outcome. Diversity on this planet is in grave danger—biodiversity, cultural and linguistic diversity, for example. We must resist a homogenous, monocropped world. It is violent, impractical and ultimately very dangerous, not to mention morally indefensible. The success of The Great Turning hinges on diversity and inclusivity and our willingness to stretch and grow beyond our thoughts and beliefs. And ultimately, it will settle for nothing less than our full participation and commitment. That will look different for different people in different places, but as 2016 unrolls before us, it is a question we are each asking ourselves. What will we do this year, with bravery and commitment, to contribute to The Great Turning?

Weaving Earth is proud to play our part, and we are tremendously grateful to the individuals, communities and organizations that are doing the same—some of them we are connected to but many, many more we have never heard of. May we all become more aware of one another in the coming weeks, months and years, so that our efforts may synergize, amplify and gather an unstoppable momentum in order to effect the critical changes we seek.