Cataclysm and Catalyst?
Winter 2020 vol 4 – issue 1
Welcome to Turning Point! Our name echoes the widespread recognition that our planet, and our humanity, has arrived at a pivotal turning point in evolutionary history. At the center of which lies a summoning call to each of us: to nurture a vital presence that continuously regenerates our lives and enlivens the whole of life as well.
We invite you to imagine this journal as a forum for inspired conversation around how we might best envision and care for our world—and each article, simply a means to begin a conversation. Conversation that calls us to see beyond our own time, acting on behalf of our co-evolving future with our planet and peoples.
May we act in Beauty, act from Inspiration, act Together…
The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are
praying for us to see beyond our time.
They are kneeling with hands clasped that we
may act with restraint, that we
might leave room for the life
that is destined to come.
~Terry Tempest Williams
As this Turning Point issue comes to press, our nation’s yearly State of the Union address is just weeks away. It is highly unlikely that we will hear much of anything about acting “with restraint,” as the poet above counsels. This life-affirming value typically emerges slowly in human development; being a pivotal quality of maturity in both individual and culture. It emerges as we become willing to offer our imagination, devotion, and care to someone or something beyond our immediate self-interest and gratification. It requires our gradual awakening to the big picture reality offered by the relational wisdom of the heart.
The state of Earth’s climate was the focus our first issue 4 years ago. Since then, it’s become increasingly clear that the technological solutions and policy adjustments capable of addressing this crisis have been pretty much shelved by our political leadership—even as the expiration date for effective use looms large. Political leadership is falling far behind individual initiative on climate matters. Read more…
by Peter Pitzele
This is a story about my conversion and its aftermath. It is not dramatic in the way of St. Paul. Rather, mine was gradual, a mounting sense of change, an accumulation of evidence that took one last straw to tip into a certainty. That straw was a piece of reading, and the change it brought about has to do, ultimately, with my sense of dying, of death, and of the purpose of my living.
The gradual conversion of which I speak began in a movie theater in 2006 when my wife and I viewed the film “An Inconvenient Truth.” The film seeded in me a new awareness of the earth, engendered a modest activism, and sharpened my attention to climate narratives as they were emerging in the news. The film addressed the necessity of change and the efficacy of ameliorative action. It spoke of “inconvenience” as a form of individual sacrifice. It made it clear that the lifestyle of each one of us must change as we recognize the contributing effects of our habits on the ecosphere. It was a Warning. I took heed. I took to driving a hybrid, composting, recycling, and voting the issue. Read more…
Elders Enter Emergency Mode
by Margaret Klein Salamon, PhD, with Jim Streit
It is fitting that younger generations are taking the lead in the grass-roots response to the unfolding climate and environmental emergency. They have contributed the least to creating the crisis and yet stand to suffer the worst of the consequences. It’s heartening to see younger people rising up and demanding action on these issues. Still, however talented, passionate and energized they may be, young climate activists can’t tackle this problem on their own. They need help from all corners of society, and elders have a crucial part to play.
Elders often (though not always) can offer:
- Considerable time commitments for volunteering, as many have retired
- Skills that they have developed through their careers
- Wisdom, especially the ability to rise above ego to get the job done– something the movement sorely needs
- Financial resources Read more…
Building Resilience against Climate Change Misinformation
by John Cook
Climate change is a more divisive issue than ever. The public’s beliefs about questions such as human-caused global warming have been drifting further apart for several decades. Democrats have become more convinced that climate change is real and needs solving, while Republicans are much less convinced. How do we solve this polarization problem?
It is impossible to properly address the problem without first examining the cause. In the late 1980s, climate change was a bipartisan issue, with George H. W. Bush pledging to fight the greenhouse effect with the White House effect. But in the early 1990s, views on climate change began to align more closely with political beliefs. Read more…
by Nancy Margulies
“Deep Adaptation,” a term coined by Professor Jem Bendell, refers to a way of responding to the climate crisis with the understanding that it is likely to impact us sooner than we realize and will likely result in a massive societal upheaval and transformation. In my despair around the fragile state of our planet, I was drawn to Deep Adaptation because it maps a way to approach the challenging territory that lies before us. Its basic tenets are:
- It’s too late to reverse the climate crisis.
- Societal collapse is inevitable.
- Confront and share your pain, grief, and confusion.
- From the rubble of old ideas, look for what of value is emerging.
- Focus on building strong and enduring communities.
I have felt less alone since I discovered Deep Adaptation. I have found myself able to connect with others who have also been fearing the worst and experiencing a range of overwhelming emotions. I have been able to express my grief and then step way back and unearth some of the assumptions that drive much of Western society. I feel I am ready to ask: If a complete overhaul is needed, then how might we best respond? What new beliefs might we adopt? In the midst of dark times, this approach has given me an odd sense of hope.
Stars in the Darkness
by William Meyers
When I spoke with Karl Eric Knutsson in Stockholm in mid-1999, he had recently retired from the United Nations, finishing his career as a senior official and important seminal thinker for UNICEF. I was in town to help Save the Children Sweden re-think its international program in anticipation of the year 2000. My job was to help it answer the question, “What new threats to children’s survival and well-being should Save the Children expect to confront in the arriving 21st Century?” It made sense to put the question to Karl Eric, who by virtue of his UN experience had an extraordinary global perspective.
After a pause to think, he began his reply by relating an experience from the mid 1980’s. According to him, the UN Secretary General, concerned by the UN’s disadvantageous posture of typically addressing emergencies only after they had already occurred, wondered if it might not be possible to predict and prepare for some of them in advance.
My Journey into Elder Activism
by Leslie Wharton
What does it mean to be an “elder” these days? Before World War II, elders were viewed as the font of wisdom, the people you went to when you needed solutions to problems that you had not encountered before. Elders could tap into memories of their parents, grandparents, and ancestors to remember how the community had handled situations—sudden droughts, strange peoples moving into the area, the sudden death of leaders—that threatened the community’s well being.
After World War II, however, with the enormous growth of technology, the rise of professional “experts” (each “owning” knowledge in a specific domain), and the loss of stable communities, the traditional role of elders pretty much disappeared. Who would ask an elder for a critical opinion when they could look it up on the internet? Who would ask an elder when the question falls into the domain of the physical or social sciences, or other areas of trained expertise? Who would ask an elder how their great grandparents handled a problem as our world began to change so radically and quickly? Would answers that may have been appropriate then be so now?
What Is There To Do?
by Minx Boren
Dismay. Anger. Fear. Grief.
The floodgate of emotions
has cracked wide open
and I am left bereft
Knocked down. Bowled over.
Bombarded by the devastation
of a world withering
before my very eyes.
But wallowing in this pain
serves no one no how…
least of all my Self.
So what is there to do
but tenderly gather up
the forlorn fragments
of my soul scattered
amongst the mountains
of human damage and debris.
What is there to do
but join hands with others
who have awakened to the truth
and who, like me,
can never again escape
into the innocence and ease
of not knowing.
What is there to do
but keep hope alive
and righteous blame at bay
and grab on to some small glimmer
of possibility to make a difference
and hold on tight but not tethered
to any one answer.
This is the time of the Great Turning
and it must begin with nothing
more than one small
strategic trim tab…*
and then another…
while there is still time.
* I learned about trim tabbing from Buckminster Fuller. When a large ocean liner needs to turn, the main rudder is too big and inefficient to change the boat’s momentum quickly, so there is a smaller rudder (a trim tab) that begins the process and makes it possible for the (great) turning to begin.
©2019 Minx Boren. All rights reserved. May be shared with attribution.