Monday, September 20, 2010

From the Ground Up

For the last thirty years of my life I have thought of myself as a radical. Liberals and reformers assume that the system has problems but can be repaired. Radicals (from Radix, root) believe that the system is beyond repair and we need to return to the roots, to start all over from the ground up.

This isn't to say that there isn't a lot of useful stuff in various reform movements--as Joanna Macy points out, one of the three intertwined strategies of the Great Turning (see my post on The Great Turning, 11/15/09) is "Actions to slow the damage to Earth and its beings". But she also talks about "A Shift in Consciousness" and "...the creation of structural alternatives". As I've pointed out here on several occasions, I see a need to build something quite different from what we have now (see Creating Social Change, 7/2/08), and to build it from the bottom up (see Social Change: My View, 6/29/10).

My vision is of intentional communities of people creating alternatives, living simply, equally, and sustainably, (see Interconnections, 10/20/08) growing food, using fewer resources, composting and creating no waste, helping each other, and healing each other. As part of this we need to find new ways of relating to each other and new ways of relating to the earth, the world, and becoming part of the world, the whole ecosystem. Just one integrated part of the whole.

These thoughts were inspired by my recent time of being sick and lying in bed reading. I have been re-reading My Name is Chellis & I'm in Recovery from Western Civilization (see One with Nature 1: Recovery, 12/26/08). I'm also continuing to read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (see my posts on Deciding, 2/19/10, Goals, 5/4/10, Priorities, 6/26/10, and Win/Win, 7/30/10) and The Rodale Book of Composting. An odd combination, you might think. And it seems that way, especially if you try to find a link between The 7 Habits and composting. But Chellis's book is that link. She talks about our need to find better relations with each other and better relations with the earth. Composting is a natural process. So is reaching out to each other and trying to communicate with each other. (I will write a post soon on the Habit I have been working on, "Seeking First to Understand" which Covey also refers to as Empathic Communication. It's probably not an accident that at the same time I am doing some growth work with a couple of other people and we are currently focusing on Marshall Rosenberg's book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Nor that as I am working my way slowly through Pema Chodron's book, When Things Fall Apart, the section that I come to as I'm doing all this is on 'Widening the Circle of Compassion'. Her claim: "There's nothing more advanced than communication--compassionate communication." Incidently, 'compassionate communication' was an alternate name used for Marshall Rosenberg's techniques.)

I've said over and over again that everything is connected. I see all the social movements from civil rights (see USH18: Starting the Sixties, 3/10/09 and USH19: It All Breaks Loose, 3/14/09) to the transition initiatives (see Transition Towns, 10/16/08) as pointing us toward something, just as I see the work of Covey and Rosenberg and others, and ideals of the Buddhists and Sufis and Quakers and Pagans and Witches and Renewal Jews and Liberation Christians as pointing us toward something. Something new and radical, something that guides us in an alternative direction, toward a different kind of world. A blueprint, if you will, for building a new way of living. From the ground up.

Quote of the Day: "This urge to wholeness is with us still; in the face of runaway psychological dysfunctions and ecological disasters it is emerging now with perhaps more urgency and effervescence than ever. Many of the social and cultural movements of the twentieth century are expressions of it: Gandhian nonviolence, the worker's movement of the 1930's, the kibbutz, Martin Luther King, Jr., the anti-war efforts, the hippies and yippies, the women's movement, the human potential movement, back-to-the-land, natural foods, Earth Day, permaculture, bioregionalism, the men's movement, voluntary simplicity. So too is the vast arising of passion for spiritual pursuits: Tibetan Buddhism, drumming circles, wilderness quests. And then there are today's social and psychological uprisings: the call for democracy and environmental justice, ... the rising of indigenous identity and self-empowerment.
"...let us be clear, at heart these effort express an irrepressibly human desire for a return to a state that can be known to us by the documentation of history, but that most especially resides in our memory, intuition, and dreams. ... The psychological qualities we so painstakingly aim for with our therapy sessions and spiritual practices are the very qualities indigenous people have always assumed. The social attributes we struggle to attain with our social-justice movements are the very ones that defined nature-based cultures for 99 percent of our existence as human beings.
"By all accounts, we want to recover from western civilization." - Chellis Glendinning

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