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Date: 11/01/2014
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Core Assumptions of the Work That Reconnects

from chapter 4 of Coming Back to Life by Joanna Macy and Molly Brown; second edition, published 2014. Enhanced by WTR Network team. Additional Assumptions are marked with *.

The Work That Reconnects is based on the following assumptions:

  • Our Earth is alive. It is not a supply house and sewer for the Industrial Growth Society. As most indigenous traditions teach, the Earth is our larger body.
  • Our true nature is far more ancient and encompassing than the separate self defined by habit and Industrial Growth Society. The planet as a living system, having evolved us into self-reflexive consciousness, can now know and see itself through us, behold its own majesty, tell its own stories — and also respond to its own suffering.
  • Our experience of moral pain for our world springs from our interconnectedness with all beings – including humans of all cultures – from which also arise our powers to act on their behalf. When we block our pain for the world, by denying it or repressing it, or viewing it as a private pathology, our power to take part in the healing of our world is diminished.
  • Unblocking occurs when our pain for the world is not only intellectually validated, but also experienced and expressed. Cognitive information about the social and ecological crises we face is generally insufficient to mobilize us. Only when we allow ourselves to experience our feelings of pain for our world, can these feelings reveal on a visceral level our mutual belonging in the web of life and free us to act on our moral authority.
  • When we reconnect with life, by willingly enduring our pain for it, the mind retrieves its natural clarity. Not only do we experience our interconnectedness in the Earth community and the human community, but also mental eagerness to match this experience with new paradigm thinking. Significant learnings occur as the individual re-orients to wider reaches of identity and self-interest.
  • The experience of reconnection with the Earth community, human and other-than-human, arouses desire to act on its behalf. As we experience our essential desire for the welfare of all beings, Earth’s self-healing powers take hold within us. For these powers to function, they must be trusted and acted on. The steps we take can be modest ones, but they should involve some risk to our mental and social comfort, lest we remain caught in old, “safe” limits. Courage is a great teacher and bringer of joy.


Contributor/Author: Joanna Macy & Molly Brown