The Great Turning

We live in the midst of a great global change of heart, and the world’s fear of and resistance to this shift towards a more nurturing, appreciative, sustainable, life enhancing human presence on this earth. Today we worship in the spirit of “the work that reconnects” by Joanna Macy.


There are two equinoxes every year – in March and September – when the Sun shines directly on the equator and the length of night and day are nearly equal.
In our region we will be in balance for one brief moment,  Monday, March 20th at 3:29 am PDT

And- for that moment, we will know the balance of light and dark- as much sunlight as not- before our days will grow longer turning us round to the longest day.

The turning of the earth, the cycles of our seasons, the circles of our years give us pause, time to reflect, time to asses our own balance, the state of our beings.

In The Great Turning, David Korten refined the notions he introduced in 1995 of two contrasting models for organizing human affairs, Empire and Earth Community.
“Empire organizes by domination at all levels, from relations among nations to relations among family members. For five thousand years, Empire has brought fortune to the few, condemned the majority of humanity to misery and servitude, suppressed the creative potential of the species, and appropriated much of the productive surplus of human societies to maintain institutions of domination.

Earth Community, by contrast, features organization by partnership, unleashes the human potential for creative cooperation, and gives priority in allocating the productive surplus of society to growing the generative potential of the whole”

William Strauss and Neil Howe, developed their own “turning” theories around the same time as David Korton- In their 1997 book Generations, they argued that American history operates in four-stage cycles that move us from major crisis to awakening around again to major crisis. The crises stage is the fourth and last of  the” Turnings” — Steve Bannon believed the U.S.  entered a Fourth Turning on Sept. 18, 2008, when Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke went to Capitol Hill to ask for a bailout of the international banking system. In Bannon’s view, we are in the midst of an existential war, and everything is a part of that conflict. Treaties must be torn up, enemies named, and culture dismantled. The apocalypse is now. “What we are witnessing,” Bannon told The Washington Post last month, “is the birth of a new political order.”

Joanna Macy writes: “By what name will our children and our children’s children call our time? Will they speak in anger and frustration of the time of the Great Unraveling, when profligate consumption let to an accelerating wave of collapsing environmental systems, violent competition for what remained of the planets resources, a dramatic dieback of the human populations and a fragmentation of those who remained into warring, fiefdoms ruled by ruthless local lords? Or, will they look back in joyful celebration on the noble times of the great turning, when their forbearers turned crisis into opportunity, embraced the higher order potential of their human nature. Learned to live in creative partnership with one another and the living earth, bringing forth a new era of human possibility…”

Ultimately, we humans are the architects of our own nature, and thereby of our future.
We only are capable intentionally modifying our behaviors and beliefs to the values and expectations of either Empire or Earth Community.

On the wall in my bathroom I have one of Brian Andreas’s Story People prints hanging—it has this whimsical angelic figure leaning over these words-

In my dream the angel shrugged and said if we fail this time it will be a failure of imagination. Then she leaned over and placed the world gently in the palm of my hand.

“Anis puffed on his pipe. He seemed to be somewhere else as well. He seemed to forget that we were there. He looked out the window and he had a look on his face of a person watching a beautiful sunset. He sat there, puffing on his broken pipe and staring out the window as the music floated over the ruins of his house and the city outside…After six years of war, the Syrians want life. They just want to let the music play.”

It is still dark when Laura Moser rises from bed and taps out the script for her Dailey Actions

A few hours later, when her kids are off, she records the voice message- crafts a text alert and blasts it out to her growing army of activists: 100,000-plus and counting.

That message went out at 10:15 a.m. EST and her work, for the moment, is done

“It’s one curated action a day to resist the Trump agenda. I came up with it in the weeks after the election ― I just wanted to do something more,” Moser told The Huffington Post. “I think a lot of people are scared into action right now. I want our reps to be aware every day that we’re watching.” Since its launch on Dec. 14, nearly 100,000 users are engaging with Daily Action, according to Moser. The service has facilitated almost 10,000 calls per day in the weeks since President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Before that, the service averaged 5,000 calls per day. Capital Hill incoming calls have increased by 164% since the election of Donald Trump Participatory democracy and direct contact with legislators has been reborn through a woman on Capital Hill.

Aliya Harir was an impressionable teenager who soaked up the patriotic propaganda from her schoolbooks and the one TV channel that served her town in the mountains of northern Pakistan. So she feared, and hated, India.

“There were always rumors that India’s going to attack Pakistan soon, and I was always worried: Where would I hide if an Indian soldier comes?” Harir, now 25, said as she laughed, embarrassed at her younger self.

Then in 2011, she was accepted into an exchange program to spend six months at Troy University in the southern U.S. state of Alabama.

As she settled into school, a Nepali student drove her to Walmart and brought along a friend. Exchanging pleasantries, Harir asked the friend where he was from and was shocked to find out he was Indian.
“I had never thought I would meet Indians – I only thought I would meet Indians if there was a war, if the Indians came in to kill us. But the Indian I met was a human being, just like me,” she said in Bangkok on the sidelines of a U.N.-supported conference aimed at supporting women peace builders. Harir’s epiphany in the United States led her on a quest – to promote India-Pakistan peace by connecting children from both countries, both online and in person.

Promoting peace through interpersonal and global unity.

Upon her return to Pakistan, Harir launched Aaghaz-e-Dosti, meaning “beginning of friendship,” brings Indian activists, teachers and journalists to classrooms in Pakistan, and pairs up children on both sides of the border to be online buddies for eight-week peacebuilding courses.

Harir now lives in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, working with young children to counter state propaganda and negative stereotypes.

As a university graduate, Korvi Rakshand wanted nothing more than to help break the cycle of poverty in his native Bangladesh. He believed that he could do that if he could reach the children on the margins- so he rented a single room in a slum for his lessons and provided half a kilo, or about a pound, of rice a day to parents as a way of encouraging them to send their children to class. A decade in, what started as a hobby has led to a network of 10 online schools and three regular schools which aim to give thousands of children in remote areas of the South Asian country of 163 million an education via technology and the internet.

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. In The Tipping Point Malcom Gladwell likens social change to the spread of a viral infection to epidemic proportions. He identifies three requirements for infection to actually turn into an epidemic- First the tipping point- requires the unique and extraordinary efforts of a few carriers. Somebody has to step way past the norms of the average to push a mere outbreak into an epidemic- remember the spread of aides?

2. Epidemics require stickiness-when a virus mutates in a way that a human body can no longer rally to defend against the invasion of the virus- the infection becomes epidemic- the disease has stuck. If the message for social change become so loud that humans can no longer ignore it- it stick.

3.There is power in context When people are in a group- the power for decision making is diffused- we actually act more swiftly and intentionally when we think we are the only ones to respond- if we think someone else will take care of it, it is our human nature to assume someone else will take care of it- unless we look around and no else is there.

Gladwell’s Law of A Few reminds us that what epidemics- and successes of social change have in common is modesty- concentrated efforts, small budgets used intelligently change the context of a message, inspire the messenger. Engage the right people- within the right circles and you can change the world, one conversation at a time.

What The Great Turning defines as Earth Community defines an alternative to the alienation and the sorrows of Empire, a way of living that places life values ahead of financial values and organizes by the principles of partnership rather than the principles of domination. The deeper and more mutually affirming our relationships, the richer, and more distinctively human we become. The yawning gap between the integral relationships for which we yearn and the fragmentation and alienation of modern life suggests the epic proportions of the challenge before us.

The Great Turning begins with relearning how to live, which depends in turn on new life-affirming stories that celebrate the possibilities of community. Life-affirming stories of Earth Community, give voice to the deep human yearning for healthy children, families, communities, and natural environments, religious, rational, humanist, theist all, appreciating the best that each has to offer

The work of the Great Turning is not to fix Empire. It is to take the seeds of change now dotting the surface of our globe and strengthen, focus and spread them- into the epidemic proportions needed to tip humanity to the point of transformation.

Leadership for strengthening this new era will  come from the people feeling out of step with the beliefs and values of the imperial cultures and the institutions of contemporary life. They will and authentically we follow our hearts, create live the new into the tipping point by giving practical expression to the change they seek.

Humans are an intelligent, self-aware, choice-making species participating in an epic creative journey. Many of us have serious doubts about the validity and values of the prevailing imperial stories. Yet because we rarely heard them challenged by credible voices, we were not motivated to give voice to our doubts.

The process of change begins as those who experience an awakening of human consciousness find the courage to break the silence by speaking openly of the truth in their hearts. The more openly we each speak our truth, the more readily others find the courage to speak theirs. We can then more easily find one another and end our isolation as we form communities of congruence in which we share our insights, bolster our courage, and give expression to stories that demonstrate and celebrate the possibilities of Earth Community.

Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the Lord’s voice, saying, “Who can I send? Who will go for us?” So I said, “Here I am. Send me!”

The Great Turning has begun. Those of us, who experience the call, must act with courage and commitment to inspire the tipping point. We must break the silence, articulating the truth in our hearts. The more authentically we follow our hearts, the more clearly we speak our truth the more we inspire others to speak the more swiftly the  transformation is achieved. Silence hibernation and  isolation sustain empire consciousness. Assuming someone else will do it sustains empire consciousness.

From Robert Fulghum’s It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It

Imagination is stronger than knowledge-
And myth is more potent than history
Dreams are more powerful than facts-
And hope always triumphs over experience-
…Love is stronger than death.