Book Review By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
from Spirituality and Practice, Resources for Spiritual Journeys
How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy
Joanna Macy, Chris Johnstone
New World Library 03/12 Paperback $14.95
Joanna Macy, author and activist for peace and deep ecology, and Chris Johnstone, who trains and writes on resilience and positive change, know that we are living in hard and perilous times. They write about three stories that are afoot in our culture that address our situation. The first is “Business As Usual” with its emphasis on economic growth, consumption, getting ahead, and using nature as nothing more than a commodity. The second story is “The Great Unraveling” which focuses on economic decline, resource depletion, climate change, social division and war, and mass extinction of species. The third story is “The Great Turning” which involves campaigns in defense of the earth; a change in our perception, thinking, and values; and developing new economic and social structures.
To choose the third story is to live in active hope. This practice has three steps: taking a clear view of reality, seeing the direction we’d like things to move in, and taking concrete steps to change things. Macy and Johnstone envision gratitude as a practice that animates us to act for our world. They also believe that it serves as an antidote to consumerism.
The planetary emergency often promotes such a feeling of pain that we are immobilized or sidetracked to trivial pursuits. The authors present practices and exercises to help us honor our pain for the world. Active hope also provides us with a wider sense of self and the desire to connect with like-minded souls.
It is hard to cope with feelings of powerlessness in the face of so many global problems. But we can derive new strength by relying on a wider view of community, a larger view of time, catching an inspiring vision, and daring to believe it is possible. We can stem the tide of catastrophe by building support for ourselves, maintaining energy and enthusiasm, and accepting uncertainty (we really don’t know how things will turn out).
Active Hope is the right book for our time!