Attitudes and Processes in the Great Turning Movement

This article is based on my ideas about the Great Turning Movement. If you aren’t familiar with them, click here.

In the social movement for the Great Turning, we need to integrate the following two poles:

1. Each person and group will choose the actions they want to take based on their passion and their understanding of their life purpose.

2. The movement is coherent and works together for its larger goal.

This article discusses some attitudes and processes that will be important for the success of the Great Turning Movement.

The Process View

I think it is very important that we don’t think that the movement can make the Great Turning happen by force of will and hard work. The idea that we can make things happen in this way comes from Industrial Era thinking. Reality rarely works that way.

Using Regenerative Era process thinking, we recognize that societies are not objects that can be pushed the way we want if we apply enough power. Instead they are processes always in motion, and we can discern the trends already operating and choose to flow with them. These natural trends are toward healing, wholeness, learning, evolving, and connecting with spirit, nature, and each other. This is especially true during this transition in social evolution, so we must aim to understand the trends leading toward the Great Turning and align with and support them.

Here is an example of this perspective. Ecosystems develop over time. At first, organisms in an immature ecosystem aren’t limited by the available resources, so “pioneering species” flourish. They tend to be less diverse, less complex, and relatively isolated from and competitive with each other. Over time, the ecosystem grows past its carrying capacity, and it becomes a “climax ecosystem.” Here species are diverse and complex, and they tend to have cooperative relationships with each other. Humanity passed the carrying capacity of the earth, our ecosystem, about 1970, so we are now in a climax ecosystem. Yet we are still acting like a pioneering species and trying to dominate our ecosystem. So there is a natural flow taking us towards becoming a climax species in alignment with the ecological reality.

This process perspective applies not just to societies but to virtually everything. This means that almost all the alternatives that will form the basis for a Regenerative Society operate by flowing with relevant natural processes. See Principles of a Regenerative Society and Visions of a Transformed Society for details about this.

Appreciation for Other Perspectives

In interacting with people outside the movement, it will be helpful if we can appreciate some of the positive aspects of our current society, even as we recognize that these haven’t gone nearly far enough, and our culture is driving us toward calamity. For example, in the U.S., we can appreciate our belief in the rule of law and the importance of democracy, the empowerment of women, freedom to speak our minds, and a healthy scientific culture,

After all, if someone came to you and said, “You are bad and destructive,” you wouldn’t be very open to hearing their point of view.

Similarly, it would be great if we could appreciate the positive aspects of conservatism, such as a commitment to freedom and individuality, without giving up our understanding of its problems.

Fun

The movement will need to have play, dancing, singing, art, storytelling, theater, meeting in nature, and other fun activities. so that we will love being part of it. I imagine that being in the movement will be joyful and deeply satisfying.

Spirituality

I believe that the movement must be spiritual. I see the widespread interest in experiential spirituality today as an indication that it will be part of the new culture that is emerging in this next era of social evolution. Up until recently, for most people, spirituality meant following a set of religious rules or ethics, while experiential spiritual practice was relegated to the few monks and nuns at the mystical core of each religion. Now spiritual development is becoming democratized, with large numbers of people participating.

Joanna Macy’s work is a great model for including spirituality in activism. Some indigenous groups have also shown us how this can be done, as happened at Standing Rock.

Spirituality often includes having some sense of a higher power or deep source where we are all interconnected in love. It means being open, caring, loving, conscious, and present, and not rigidly attached to your identity, at least some of the time. The movement won’t foist spirituality or religion on anyone. People will be free to relate to spirit in their own way or not, though some Great Turning groups may be based on a certain spiritual path or religion.

Some people sense an unseen force or flow, perhaps evolutionary, which is moving us toward the Great Turning. At times, we may open ourselves to this to guide us.

Ideally, we would be able to view a person who is doing harm as a human being who is struggling with life circumstances and being driven by unconscious pain. We could be open to them as people while not losing sight of destructive things they are doing that must be stopped. The same applies to people in the movement who may act in ways that harm it.

We want to avoid unnecessarily making other people into enemies in our minds. On the other hand, we need to recognize when someone is truly an enemy of the movement and life, where it would be foolish to try to cooperate with them.

Experimenting

Not only do we need to be open to experimenting with various proposed structures for a regenerative society, we also need to experiment with different ways for the movement to operate and strategies for reaching our goals. In this proposal, I am laying out my ideas for how this might work best, but I don’t imagine that these will be final. There will be much discussion within the movement aimed at coming up with the most effective approaches and structures for various situations. But even beyond discussion, we must try out different ideas to see what works.

For example, I have focused a lot on Great Turning groups and personal development of change agents, changing people’s worldviews and consciousness, and the creation of alternative social structures. One of my colleagues, Michael Goldstein, has focused more on political goals, local chapters, and the movement taking power. For a while, these differences were resolved by discussion, but now Michael has left the Great Turning Network. However, we continue to meet and discuss ideas. Unlike those old radical splinter groups that disdained each other, we will keep in touch, learn from each other, and see which approaches work best under which circumstances.