The Work That Reconnects invites us to take a fresh look at what we see happening around us. The “Three Stories of Our Times” help us do this. Each of these stories reveals a profoundly different lens through we can understand our world.

These stories are:
  • Business as Usual
  • The Great Unraveling
  • The Great Turning

All three simplify vastly complex global realities. Nevertheless, they can help us make sense of what we experience in our world, and they can help to clarify how we want to live our own lives and engage in the work of change.

When the Three Stories were first presented, they reflected the elements of the white supremacist/colonialist mindset within which the Work was first developed. Thanks to the efforts of members of the Anti-Oppression Resource Group, adaptations have been made to better represent the stories of more of the world’s people. The current framing accurately acknowledges and addresses the many ways that colonization and white supremacy have shaped the stories of our times. However, they remain very much a work in progress.

Business as Usual

Business as Usual is the story of the Industrial Growth Society, and the European-based colonial empires from which it emerged. The central plot of this story is about “getting ahead,” and competing for profit and power by “growing the economy.”

This story says that economic recessions, extreme weather conditions, and social unrest are just temporary difficulties from which mainstream society will surely recover. There is little need to change the way those of us in the industrialized world live.

The Business as Usual story functions to maintain the power and privilege of the wealthy. This story is continually reinforced by corporate-controlled media.

Many people caught up in the Industrial Growth Society assume Business as Usual to be the only reality.

The Great Unraveling

The Great Unraveling is the story told by courageous scientists, journalists and activists who are not under the spell of Business as Usual. Many powerful storytellers of the Great Unraveling are Indigenous leaders, descendants of enslaved people, and young people.

The living systems of Earth have been unraveling regionally for centuries. Under colonial expansion and rule, the extraction of resources from the land has always gone hand in hand with exploitation of people and their labor. Refineries, mines, and toxic waste disposal are sited in and near their communities.

The theft of land and life from indigenous peoples in the Americas, Africa, Australia, and Asia is ongoing to this day.

From its beginnings in England three centuries ago, the Industrial Revolution was powered by the enslaving and trafficking of African people. Human enslavement continues in many places and forms around the world.

Now the climate itself is unraveling world-wide, and the sixth great extinction of species is underway. The world-wide insect die-off is accelerating. Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and wildfires leave millions of people without shelter, food, or potable water.

Military operations and conflicts, as well as famine and drought, drive staggering numbers of refugees to flee for their lives across borders. Many are turned away, incarcerated, enslaved, or consigned to refugee camps for years on end.

Multinational corporations and the wealthiest one-percent of the world grow richer, while democratic movements are suppressed.

This is the Great Unraveling.

The Great Turning

The Great Turning is the story of the global transition from the Industrial Growth Society to a Life Sustaining Society. It’s a story of great courage, in which much has been lost, but much is saved and creativity abounds. This story is being vibrantly lived today.

In the Great Turning, the wisdom of Indigenous traditions and ancient spiritual practices helps us understand and experience the inter-connectedness of all life. Attitudes shift from exploitation to respect, from extraction to regeneration, from competition to cooperation.

Our solidarity with one another deepens as we respond to the crises of the Great Unraveling. Movements for social justice provide essential leadership as we repair and renew the living systems of earth. In the story of the Great Turning, we join together to act for the sake of life on Earth.

The power of the Great Turning comes from our human efforts in these Three Dimensions:

  • Holding Actions in Defense of Life
  • Transforming the Foundations of our Common Life
  • Shift in Perception and Values

The fruits of these efforts reinforce each other. Many of us are engaged in projects – short-term or life-long – that engage all three. Be sure to read this deeper exploration of the Dimensions of the Great Turning.

Choosing Your Story

The Work That Reconnects invites us to reflect on the Three Stories of Our Times. They are all happening, every day. Which story do you choose to add your energy to, as you set your intention for each day – and for your life?