From an imagined perspective of future generations, we can see how the Great Turning is gaining momentum today, through the choices of countless individuals and groups. We can see that it is happening simultaneously in three areas or dimensions that are mutually reinforcing. These are:
1) actions to slow the damage to Earth and its beings;
2) analysis and transformation of the foundations of our common life; and
3) a fundamental shift in world-view and values.
Many of us are engaged in all three, each of which is necessary to the creation of a life-sustaining society.
Holding Actions: Actions to slow the damage to Earth and its beings
Perhaps the most visible dimension of the Great Turning, these activities include all the critical political, legislative, and legal work required to reduce the destruction, as well as direct actions–blockades, boycotts, civil disobedience, and other forms of refusal. A few examples:
- Documenting and disseminating the ecological and health effects of the Industrial Growth /End-stage Capitalist Society ;
- Lobbying or protesting against international trade agreements that endanger ecosystems and undermine social and economic justice;
- Blowing the whistle on illegal and unethical corporate practices;
- Direct Action/Civil Disobedience: Blockading and conducting vigils at places of ecological destruction, institutions of financial exploitation, such as old-growth forests under threat of clear-cutting or at nuclear dumping grounds, blocking the laying of new oil pipelines, civil disobedience against fracking and exploitative banks.
Work of this kind buys time, helps to shift consciousness, contests for power, and empowers growing numbers of people to take action. It saves some lives, and ecosystems, species, and cultures, as well as elements of the gene pool, for the sustainable society/societies to come. But it, alone, is insufficient to bring about the necessary transformation.
Gaian Structures: Analysis of structural causes and the creation of structural alternatives
The second dimension of the Great Turning is equally crucial. To significantly free ourselves and our planet from the damage being inflicted by the Industrial Growth Society, we must understand its multiple, complex and intersecting dynamics. How did we get here? What are the tacit agreements that create obscene wealth for a few, while progressively impoverishing the rest of humanity? What interlocking causes indenture us to an insatiable economy that uses our Earth as supply house and sewer?
It is a devastating picture, and it takes courage and confidence in our own common sense and our deepest moral/spiritual core to look at it with realism. We demystify the workings of the global economy to see how this system operates.. By doing so, we are less tempted to demonize the politicians and corporate CEOs who are in bondage to it. Instead, powerful narratives about accountability and restorative justice are generated. For all the apparent might of the Industrial Growth Society, its fragility is being exposed –how dependent it is on obedience, and how doomed it is to devour itself.
In addition to learning how the present system works, many people contribute to the creation of structural alternatives. In countless localities, like green shoots pushing up through the rubble, new social and economic arrangements are sprouting. Not waiting for our national or state politicos to keep pace, we band together and take action in our own communities. Flowing from that creativity and collaboration on behalf of all life, these actions may be criticized as insignificant, but they hold the seeds of resilience and generativity for the future.
Some of the initiatives in this dimension:
- Teach-ins and study groups on the Industrial Growth Society;
- Strategies and programs for nonviolent, citizen-based defense;
- Developing communities grounded in deep interconnections across former dividing lines, such as race, gender, economic status and abilities–that also provide models for the larger social systems/society.
- Reduction of reliance on fossil and nuclear fuels and conversion to renewable energy sources;
- Collaborative living arrangements such as co-housing, eco-villages, land-share tiny houses, and collective home shares.
- Community gardens, consumer cooperatives, worker-owned cooperatives, community-supported agriculture, watershed restoration, local currencies, and more.
Shift in Consciousness
These structural alternatives cannot take root and survive without deeply realized and embodied values to sustain them. They require profound shifts in our perception of reality, and in our understanding of the nature of relationship – both among humans and with the more than human world. Across the planet, those shifts are alive and happening now, as cognitive revolution, embodied practice and spiritual awakening.
The insights and experiences that enable and empower us to make these shifts are accelerating, and they take many forms. They arise as the recognition, expression and honoring of grief for our world, giving the lie to old paradigm notions, including “rugged” individualism and the essential separateness of the self from other humans, the world, and the deeper energies of reality. They arise as welcome response to breakthroughs in scientific thought and practice, as reductionism, materialism and science beholden to profit give way to evidence of a vital living universe.
And they arise in the resurgence of wisdom traditions. This deepening of sacred and non-dual understandings remind us again that our world is a sacred whole, worthy of adoration and inspired service.
The many forms and ingredients of this dimension include:
- general living systems theory; for example using its teachinga about emergent properties to inform strategies for change;
- deep ecology,the deep, long-range ecology movement and the movement for a just transition;
- Creation Spirituality and Liberation Theology, Engaged Buddhism and similar currents in other traditions
- resurgence of shamanic traditions
- the concept of nurturance culture and efforts toward its development,
- efforts to preserve indigenous languages and cultures and thereby the wisdom they embody,
- somatic therapies to connect to our bodies,
- reaching across cultures and ethnicities and other differences to embrace commonalities and celebrate diversity.
The realizations we make in the third dimension of the Great Turning save us from succumbing to panic, paralysis, or viciousness. They give us strength and courage to resist psychic numbness and the false shelter of avoidance. They empower us to choose not to turn on each other as scapegoats on whom to vent our fear and rage. Instead, we move toward radically embracing the unity of humankind across all differences and the fundamental sacredness of all life.