Jun 7, 2016

The Three Stories of Our Time

By Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone / activehope.info
The Three Stories of Our Time
Mint Museum / Bob Trotman combines wood’s visual frankness and warmth with a philosophical sensation of dislocation and alienation. Trotman’s figurative sculptures in Business as Usual intensely examine the psychology of everyday life. www.mintmuseum.org

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. 


An excerpt from Active Hope by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone.

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