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Quotes and Poems

Session 4 - The Great Turning/Ecological Revolution

Paul Hawken

“If… the metaphor of an organism can be applied to humankind, we can imagine a collective movement that would protect, repair, and restore the organism’s capacity to endure when threatened. Specifically, the shared activity of hundreds or thousands of nonprofit organizations can be seen as humanity’s immune response to toxins like the political corruption, economic disease, and ecological degradation.”  

“Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied, even joyous. That has more of an effect on economic well-being than any other single factor.”

Martha Graham

“There is a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you  into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is  unique….You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open….(there is ) no satisfaction whatever at any time, There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction. a blessed unrest that keep us marching and makes us more alive than the other.” 

Walt Whitman

We are Nature,
Long have we been absent,
But now we return.

Joanna Macy

The Great Turning is a name for the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization. 

The ecological and social crises we face are inflamed by an economic system dependent on accelerating growth. This self-destructing political economy sets its goals and measures its performance in terms of ever-increasing corporate profits--in other words by how fast materials can be extracted from Earth and turned into consumer products, weapons, and waste. 

A revolution is underway because people are realizing that our needs can be met without destroying our world. We have the technical knowledge, the communication tools, and material resources to grow enough food, ensure clean air and water, and meet rational energy needs. Future generations, if there is a livable world for them, will look back at the epochal transition we are making to a life-sustaining society. And they may well call this the time of the Great Turning. It is happening now.

Whether or not it is recognized by corporate-controlled media, the Great Turning is a reality. Although we cannot know yet if it will take hold in time for humans and other complex life forms to survive, we can know that it is under way. And it is gaining momentum, through the actions of countless individuals and groups around the world. To see this as the larger context of our lives clears our vision and summons our courage.

Uncertainty   It’s walking the razor’s edge of the sacred moment where you don’t know, you can’t count on and comfort yourself with any sure hope. All you can know is you allegiance to life and your intention to serve it in the moment that we are given. In that sense, this radical uncertainty liberates your creativity and courage. 




A MESSAGE FROM THE HOPI ELDERS   Oraibi, Arizona

There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel like they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off toward the middle of the river,
keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.
See who is there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves!
For the moment we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lonely wolf is over.
Gather yourselves!
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we have been waiting for!!

Arundhati Roy:  War Talk 

“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.

The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. 

Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. 

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

Wendell Berry

“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.”  

“You mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else. What you must do is this:

“Rejoice evermore.

Pray without ceasing.

In everything give thanks.”

I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.” 

Thomas Berry

“ Our challenge is to create a new language, even a new sense of what it is to be human. It is to transcend not only national limitations, but even our species isolation, to enter into the larger community of living species. This brings about a completely new sense of reality and value.”

“The next transition, from the dominant scientific-technological period to the ecological period, is turbulent indeed. This turbulence establishes the context of our present educational discussions.”

“Here we might observe that the basic mood of the future might well be one of confidence in the continuing revelation that takes place in and through the earth. If the dynamics of the universe from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the sun, and formed the earth, if this same dynamism brought forth the continents and seas and atmosphere, if it awakened life in the primordial cell and then brought into being the unnumbered variety of living beings, and finally brought us into being and guided us safely through the turbulent centuries, there is reason to believe that this same guiding process is precisely what has awakened in us our present understanding of ourselves and our relation to this stupendous process. Sensitized to such guidance from the very structure and functioning of the universe, we can have confidence in the future that awaits the human venture.”

Bernadette Miller: Light

I want to write of the light
but I do not know
whether words can illuminate
the way it hangs
upon branches and bird wings
and broken things
returning beings to beauty.
Can words spin substance
from sunshine and decay?
Can words cajole
celebration from night-weary
birds?
Can words warm surfaces
of stones and sorrows?
Can words reveal richness
in mundane
and battered
things?
I do not know.
But if we would write
a tomorrow
which is wider than wounds
we have worn,
we might wield words
like benedictions
and remember
blessings
within brokenness,
beginnings
within endings,
and beauty
within all things.

Vandana Shiva

No matter what problem you look at, every ecological problem comes from this illusion that we are separate from nature.

I believe overcoming the separation is a longing much deeper than the recent rise of ecological awareness. The healing is coming from reclaiming our oneness with the web of life, with the universe itself.

Some people do it through meditation and yoga, but a lot more are doing it by just planting a seed and growing a garden. In planting a seed you are one with the cycles and regenerative capacity of life.

John Lennon:  Imagine 

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today... Aha-ah...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace... You...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world... You...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Joanna Macy:  Personal Guidelines for the Great Turning

Come from Gratitude

To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe--to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it--is a wonder beyond words. Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Furthermore, it is a privilege to be alive in this time when we can choose to take part in the self-healing of our world. 

Don't be Afraid of the Dark

This is a dark time, filled with suffering and uncertainty. Like living cells in a larger body, it is natural that we feel the trauma of our world. So don't be afraid of the anguish you feel, or the anger or fear, for these responses arise from the depth of your caring and the truth of your interconnectedness with all beings. To suffer with is the literal meaning of compassion.

Dare to Vision

Out of this darkness a new world can arise, not to be constructed by our minds so much as to emerge from our dreams. Even though we cannot see clearly how it's going to turn out, we are still called to let the future into our imagination. We will never be able to build what we have not first cherished in our hearts...

Roll up your Sleeves

Many people don't get involved in the Great Turning because there are so many different issues, which seem to compete with each other. Shall I save the whales or help battered children? The truth is that all aspects of the current crisis reflect the same mistake, setting ourselves apart and using others for our gain. So to heal one aspect helps the others to heal as well. Just find what you love to work on and take joy in that. Never try to do it alone. Link up with others; you'll spark each others' ideas and sustain each others' energy...

Act your Age

Since every particle in your body goes back to the first flaring forth of space and time, you're really as old as the universe. So when you are lobbying at your congressperson's office, or visiting your local utility, or testifying at a hearing on nuclear waste, or standing up to protect an old grove of redwoods, you are doing that not out of some personal whim, but in the full authority of your 15 billions years.