To Choose Life – Choosing our Story

A weaving of extracts from Chapter 1 in the book “Coming Back to Life” by Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown

This post goes in threes… First I am going to introduce the First chapter of the book Coming Back to Life through some wonderful quotes. I hope this inspires you to research more about these 3 inspirational authors. After that, I will explain the 3 Stories (with a capital S) that the authors describe in this chapter and, thirdly, you will hear about the 3 ways we can participate in what we call here the Great Turning.

John Seed is the founder of Rainforest Information Centre in Australia. He has dedicated his life to the protection of rainforests and their biodiversity for over 40 years. He says:

“How are we to represent the 4 billion years of living ancestry on whose shoulders we stand and whose future lies in our trembling hands?”

John Seed

Molly Young is an ecopsychologist and the co-author of the book I am extracting the following quote from:

“The whole structure of corporate capitalism participates in this kind of self deception, as we ignore and cover up the enormous harm done to the environment, our fellow creatures and to oppressed peoples around the world”

 “Living within a society that denies the pain it causes engenders deep conflict within us.” “Being nice, even being intelligent means going along with the communal deception”.

“This is not who we really are: self centered, arrogant, greedy, contemptuous of other humans and life forms. No! We have been hijacked by an insane, alien culture of our own foolish making.” MYB

Molly Young Brown

And, finally, Joanna Macy, founder of the Work That Reconnects and also coauthor of this book states:

“Buddhist social thinkers see that what is at work here are institutionalised forms of the 3 mutually reinforcing “poisons” at the root of all human suffering: greed, aggression and delusion.

These errors become institutionalized as political, economical and legal agents in their own right. They attain a degree of autonomy extending beyond the control and the conscious choices of any individuals involved.

This understanding can motivate us not to condemn as much as to work to free ourselves and others who are in bondage to these institutionalized prisons.”

“It is essential that we know this: we can meet our needs without destroying our life-support system”. “All we need is the collective will”.

Joanna Macy

If there is to be a liveable world for those who come after us, it will be because we have managed to make the transition from the Industrial Growth Society to a Life Sustaining Society. When people of the future look back, they will see more clearly than we can now, how revolutionary our actions were. Perhaps they will call it the time of the Great Turning.”

Choosing our Story:

“By story is meant our version of reality, the lens through which we see and understand what is happening now in our world. Often our story is largely unconscious and unquestioned, and we assume it to be the only reality.

In the industrialized world today, the most commonly held stories seem to boil down to three.

[…] They are all “true.” Individuals and groups and collectives choose the one they want to get behind, the one that seems to hold the widest and most useful perspective for them.

  1. Business As Usual

Business as usual is the story of the Industrial Growth Society. We hear it from politicians, business schools, corporations and corporate-controlled media. Here the defining assumption is that there is little need to change the way we live. The central plot is about getting ahead. […]

  1. The Great Unraveling

The Great Unraveling is the story we tend to hear from environmental scientists, independent journalists and activists. It draws attention to the disasters that Business As Usual has caused and continues to create. It is an account backed by evidence of the ongoing derangement and collapse of biological, ecological, economic and social systems.

  1. The Great Turning

The Great Turning is the story we hear from those who see the Great Unraveling and don’t want it to have the last word. It involves the emergence of new and creative human responses that enable the transition from the Industrial Growth Society to a Life-Sustaining Society. The central plot is about joining together to act for the sake of life on Earth.”

Let us look at how this 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

Perhaps the most visible dimension of the Great Turning.

2. Analysis and transformation of the foundations of our common life

In a nutshell “Understanding the dynamics of corporate capitalism and

generating structures to govern ourselves”

3. A fundamental shift in worldview and values

The actions we take — and structures we build — are a mirror of how we relate to Earth and each other and this book is meant to facilitate this third dimension of the Great Turning, creating a holding space for us to shift our perception.

“Many of us are engaged in all three dimensions, each of which is necessary to the creation of a life-sustaining society. People working quietly behind the scenes in any of these three dimensions may not consider themselves activists, but we do. We consider anyone acting for a purpose larger than personal gain or advantage to be an activist.”

Much gratitude to the authors and contributors of this life-changing book.

This is Gaia Speaking, thanks for Reading.

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