Three Stories Of Our Time
I’m grateful for Barbara Shipka, whose blog posts I receive. She offers images, descriptions, and reflections that inspire me to dwell in a layer of meaningfulness, and then also, to find further images, descriptions, and reflections that add to what I am and what I offer with groups.
Recently, Barbara’s offering was about Three Stories Of Our Time.
Business As Usual: We live in the midst of a success story where we can have lamb from New Zealand and strawberries in January; where we can fly all over the world and plan for our future. It’s a story that views economic and technological developments as having made life easier; and where looking for how to ‘move things forward’ is a given.
The Great Unraveling: It’s too late already. The die is cast. It’s all overwhelming: depleted natural resources, climate change and superstorms, the rich getting richer and everyone else getting poorer; where, globally, there are the multitudes of really poor who are suffering and starving, species are going extinct, war is big business; where it all goes on and on – until it won’t anymore.
Then there is a third story called, in Joanna Macy’s words, The Great Turning. Macy calls this story ‘the essential adventure of our time.’ It is a story that energizes and enlivens. It is truly a story of living in the present, of engaging with life fully and to the best of our abilities, and of making a difference in the world as the world is. Today.
Within this third story, there is a much larger and longer-view context: It is a time when a very powerful shift is evolving in our collective world view. During our lifetimes, what it means to be human is changing at least as profoundly as when humans moved from being hunter-gatherers to living around a well – which led to the advent of agriculture. This time in which we live is ‘a hinge in history.’ Which way will the door swing? Wise souls like Willis Harman, Rupert Sheldrake, and Peter Russell have spoken of this shift in consciousness as a shift from viewing the universe as being mechanistic and ‘out there’ to viewing the universe as a whole, living and conscious system; that even as we live within it, it also lives within us.
I don’t have much energy for “Business as Usual” (BAU) — that feels like an instruction to “keep banging your head against the wall…, because I said so.” Yes, there is insanity in that. It’s got too much imposed directive and unexamined assumption.
I have much more energy in the “Great Unraveling” and the “Great Turning” — because I’ve seen it over and over again that people appreciate the opportunity for truth-telling that comes with those stories. A tiny bit of permission and invitation to be in these big stories — and interrupt or suspend BAU — creates a kind of medicine, a kind of deep breath and a relieving exhale. I continue to see people yearning for this — and its accessed quite easily with a naming out loud of the story, and then invitation to connect and encounter other humans. “What are some of the ways that you relate to these stories of unraveling and turning?”
Whereas BAU presumes “having most of it figured out,” the latter stories don’t require it “figured out” as if merely awaiting our replication and scaling. Unraveling and Turning require us to come together, to be in our not-knowing, to be in our shared wonder together — which might just be the most needed turning of our times, to one another.