Some call it “The Great Unraveling.” What we know is that all around the planet, living systems are under stress and some are breaking down. What we know is that the atmosphere is warming rapidly, weather is becoming more chaotic and unpredictable as climate responds to the heat, ice sheets and glaciers are melting and sea levels are rising, flooding our shores and threatening island nations. What we know is that everywhere we seem to be facing crises of toxic contamination – in our water sources, in our soils, in the air we breathe. We also know that the rate of species extinctions is accelerating at a rate not seen in millions of years.
Something has gone very wrong with the way we humans live here.
And it all happened very fast with the rise of industrialization and the burning of fossil fuels. Especially since World War II, population growth, economic growth, growth in human extraction and consumption of the Earth’s most vital, precious “resources,” have brought us to a moment of reckoning.
This crisis of the human species is complex and real. While it relates to an economic way of life, underneath that are dynamics more basic and profound rooted in culture, history, and beliefs. We have become hooked on an economic way of life that is wholly unsustainable. In reality, it is no longer an economy of “growth” at all; it is an economy of ecological depletion, using up, it is about diminishment and loss. We need to know why this is. We need especially to know why, despite all the signs and evidence that show this description to be accurate, an accounting of reality, we are having a very hard time accepting it.
|Credit: Margaret Swedish|
Back in 1979 a group of women in a Northern Virginia suburb created this little non-profit as they met over morning coffee. They were inspired by this passage from the prophet Isaiah in chapter 65:
“Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth. The things of the past shall not be remembered, or come to mind. Instead there shall always be happiness and joy in what I create. For I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight. No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there, or the sound of crying…None shall hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.” [17-19, 35a]
|Mountaintop Removal Coal-mining - Vivian Stockman|
Most of us do not want to live in a world in which ecological grief is becoming a major theme within the field of psychology – because the losses of so much that we love are mounting.
In North Dakota and Iowa right now, thousands of people have been coming together to defend their land and water from a new oil pipeline that poses grave dangers to the places they love. It has been deeply moving to see this movement grow to the point where you feel this tipping point being reached. Whatever the outcome of this particular struggle, you can feel a “rising’ from deep within the Earth, from the roots, including our human roots, re-finding our place within the whole and wanting that whole to remain intact for future generations.
And that’s what so many have called “The Great Turning.” It accompanies the Great Unraveling, and will for some time as we go through this transition. I’m counting on the Turning to get us through. I’m trusting this new emergent energy among us to get us to the other side of the crisis as we create new ways of life that will make us more deeply human than ever before, conscious of our place here, the role we have to play, the honor and gift that it is to be here.
|Credit: Margaret Swedish|
~ Margaret Swedish