Friday, October 22, 2010

Supporting the Great Turning

I'm increasingly drawn to do work that intentionally serves the Great Turning, "a name for the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization." (Joanna Macy) I want to support organizations as they discern how they can best contribute to this turning. I made the diagram above to express some of the key elements I see in this turning to some groups I'm working with. Joanna Macy and David Korten have written in depth about the Great Turning. The background image is "Pinwheel of Star Birth" from the Hubble Telescope.

Do you see this Great Turning happening? How are you engaging with these shifts?


natcase said...

Well, I see a lot of confusion, and I'm not convinced the turning is quite as you show it. What I see is a turn towards on one hand an egalitarian ideal: democracy, human rights, and a networked rather than hierarchical view of vested power. This I see in your diagram

But the other part I see is the growing disintegration of the lines separating humans from the rest of life and the rest of the univserse: arguments that begin "humans are the only animals who..." are increasingly irrelevant. And I don't think we really have a sense what it means to fully recognize ourselves as animals. We know a lot more about animals and about species, but we do not quite believe we are subject to natural selection. And what seems like a cold, cruel process there is very discomforting.

Where I personally see an avenue of hope and growth is in exploring how we are not just independent organisms but parts of larger wholes. There's a little of this here and there, but it seems pretty scattered and fringe-y right now. Our whole way of being makes this train of thought really alien. I hope it finds an "in" in the same way egalitarianism seems to be making inroads.

I'm actually pretty hopeful that the issues around food will provide exactly that opening. When we see ourselves as intimately part of a system in which we eat fellow animals, we really begin to engage with what it means to be part of this larger, very physical system, and not use spirit as a way to deny our physicality.

Anyway, that's where I am with things this week...

Michael Bischoff said...

Great points, Nat! What you said is helpful to me. I don't see the transitions that I put on the outside circle as inevitable on a wide scale, but they are the shifts that I want to support. I also want to keep refining how I understand and describe those shifts. The four things I put are an initial stab at it.

I also want to find ways to articulate what ties together the different shifts (egalitarian, sustainability, etc.), and I think something you said gets at that:
"Exploring how we are not just independent organisms but parts of larger wholes." I think this change in our self-understanding and world view links all the necessarily transitions.

Of course, this diagram greatly oversimplifies things. It is a time of lots of confusion and chaos. I'm looking for ways to orient myself and frame my work in the midst of the confusion, while not taking my own way of talking about it too literally.

Saira said...

michael a great model with some wonderful elements indeed...shared on Facebook as a rendition of the presencing model...shifts will happen as we become increasingly part of the greater whole well pointed by nat case I so agree with. an alignment of thinking globally will have to precede the great changes we all dream off.Good luck with all!