In any great adventure, there are always obstacles in the way. The first hurdle is just to be aware that we, as a civilization and as a species, are facing a crisis point. When looking at the mainstream of our society, and the priorities expressed or goals pursued, it is hard to see much evidence of this awareness. We try to make sense of the huge gap between the scale of the emergency and the size of the response by describing how our perceptions are shaped by the story we identify with. We describe three stories, or versions of reality, each acting as a lens through which we see and understand what’s going on.
In the first of these, Business as Usual, the defining assumption is that there is little need to change the way we live. Economic growth is regarded as essential for prosperity, and the central plot is about getting ahead. The second story, the Great Unraveling, draws attention to the disasters that Business as Usual is taking us toward, as well as those it has already brought about.
The third story is held and embodied by those who know the first story is leading us to catastrophe and who refuse to let the second story have the last word. Involving the emergence of new and creative human responses, it is about the epochal transition from an industrial society committed to economic growth to a life-sustaining society committed to the healing and recovery of our world. We call this story the Great Turning. There is no point in arguing about which of these stories is “right.” All three are happening. The question is which one we want to put our energy behind.
Chris Johnstone is a faculty member of The School of Life and co-author with Joanna Macy of 'Active Hope: How To Face This Mess We're In Without Going Crazy' which will be published in the UK on 13 April 2012. He will be leading a one-day workshop on personal resilience on Sunday 11 March. For more details, click here.
If you are interested in the 'third story' join us for our regular class 'How To Make A Difference'.