Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Quiet Revolution?

Between the stories of sequester, austerity, drones, civil wars, gun violence, extreme weather, demise of species, accelerating inequality, corruption, violence against women, and on and on I get numbed. I want to retreat into my reading, my gardening, my enjoyment of good food, good beer, good friends, and good work. It just seems so hopeless in the face of it all. And of course this feeling has ebbed and flowed through the six plus decades of this life. But my new issue of Resurgence [see blogs from last week] arrived yesterday entitled A Quiet Revolution. I sampled a few pieces this morning. As usual they each captured something that I don't catch in many other reads.

Joanna Macy's "Hearing the Call" is a siren song to "The Great Turning", a term that she coined for the quiet revolution she believes has been under way for years and is growing. Early on she highlights Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest, in which he describes a Movement With No Name but with perhaps as many as 2 million organizations worldwide who are "hearing the call to widen the notions of their self-interest and act for the sake of life on Earth." Macy believes that "in this defining moment, countless choices are being made, habits relinquished, friendships forged, and gateways opened to unforeseen collaborations and capacities."

Macy's faith is not without some reflection on the forces that make that faith seem impossible to hold. "All of us are prey to the fear that it may be too late, and thus any effort is essentially hopeless. Any strategy we can mount seems so puny in comparison to the mighty systemic forces embedded in the military-industrial complex. The accelerating pace of destruction and contamination may already be taking us beyond those tipping points where the ecological and social systems unravel irreparably. Along with the Great Turning, the Great Unraveling is happening too, and there is no way to tell how the larger story will end."

Macy's unflinching commitment seems to be fused into her muscle and bone as she continues,

"So we learn again that hardest and most rewarding of lessons: how to make friends with uncertainty; how to pour your whole passion into a project when you can't be sure it's going to work. How to free yourself from dependence on seeing the results of your actions. These learnings are critical, for living systems are ever unfolding in new patterns and connections. There is no point from which to foresee with clarity the possibilities to emerge under future conditions."


"Instead of any blueprint for the future, we have this moment. In lieu of a sure fire strategy to pull off the Great Turning, we can only fashion guidelines to help us keep going as best we can, and to stay on track with a simple faith in the goodness of life." She goes on to offer some guidelines for our consideration. The article unfortunately is not currently available without a subscription, but perhaps this whets your appetite to consider that investment in support of The Quiet Revolution.

But even if it doesn't, you can read Satish Kumar's "Soil, Soul, and Society" in the same issue wherein he lays out a worldview that he holds and lives to. These two gave my day a boost and pointed me forward. May they feed something you need