Sea Change Radio Co-Hosts Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon speak with eco-philosopher Joanna Macy about The Great Turning, a concept she helped coin and define. Macy calls The Great Turning “the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization.” This is the second in a series of shows on The Great Turning — check out the first show in the series — a conversation with David Korten.
Joanna Macy is a practicing Buddhist with a doctorate in Systems Theory. In other words, she’s a walking paradox. This merging of spirit and science perfectly exemplifies the notion of the Great Turning, which Macy believes is happening as we speak, and gathering force. It’s a collective response to the social, ecological, and economic crises unfolding before us that result from systems that are out of balance.
Before Baue could even ask his first question, Macy enthusiastically complimented Sea Change on its name, which aligns with the concept of The Great Turning. She then went on to describe how she didn’t coin the term as much as she acted as a filter for what she calls the “cultural meme” that became The Great Turning — which she considers a revolution as significant as the agricultural or industrial revolution. Macy ascribes primary cause for our current crises to our anthropocentrism, or the belief that humans are the “crown of creation.”
So how does The Great Turning help solve the intertwining crises we face? By reconciling spirit and science, instead of prioritizing one over the other — much as Macy balances Buddhism with systems thinking. Other solutions include reforming the political economy of industrial growth society, for example by re-localizing economies.
Macy concludes with an in-depth description of The Work That Reconnects, a process she devised that not only connects participants with each other and themselves, but also reconnects them to the earth that nurtures their existence.