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 four 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.
Perhaps this painful reality is an essential part of the slow maturation within humanity—our growing up beyond reliance on the surrogate parents we’ve positioned our elected officials to be for us.
The recent groundswell of largely youth-inspired activism is certainly stimulating a maturation process by demanding accountability to what lies beyond our time. And not just a tinkering adjustment to the status quo, but a radical departure from the politically expedient smoke and mirror offerings of late. True elders are now being summoned to join with the youth, offering a life-seasoned perspective on what accountability demands from each of us. Together we are able to act from the knowing that our climate crisis, as with any crisis, evokes and demands change—not just accommodating shifts in behavior, but fundamental shifts in consciousness.
Ours is not solely a climate crisis, it is an everything crisis. We’re awakening to the fact that climate activism is related to, and inherently dependent upon, every other form of environmental, social, and political activism in motion today. And these, in turn, dependent upon a radical reimagining of our sacred partnership and responsibility to every life form and process on our beloved Earth. Such re-visioning gives us the needed gift of sight “for us to see beyond our time.”
Waking up demands a lot from us. In my view, it requires that I hold ‘world as emergency’, and ‘world as emergent’, with equal regard. I must somehow learn to live on the prickly horns of this dilemma without easing discomfort by choosing one side or the other. I must somehow keep eyes wide open to the inspiring emergence of a 16-year-old Swedish activist becoming an iconic figure in the struggle to rescue us all from climate disaster—right alongside the awareness that the recent international climate summit in Madrid did little but expose deeper divides than ever over governmental willingness to responsibly deal with this issue. I must wed the outrage I feel with my deep trust in the regenerative powers of nature and the nascent capacity of human compassion and wisdom—and act from the love of these capacities, rather than the fear of incapacity. I must somehow learn to live faithfully within my time, and see beyond it.
Again and again some people in the crowd wake up.
They have no ground in the crowd and they emerge according to broader laws.
They carry strange customs with them, and demand room for bold gestures.
The future speaks ruthlessly through them.
~Rainer Maria Rilke
The mosaic of articles that follow reflect on the ways we’ve become lost and found within all that climate disruption presents to our senses and our sensibility. They point to bearings these authors have found useful in navigating this largely uncharted, territory. We’ve reached out to both storytellers and scientists to shed some light and heat on several key perspectives on our journey forward.
And so, dear readers, let us gather around the fires that these authors are tending and reflect on what is most enlivening and true for each of us. We welcome your voice, as well, by contributing your response to the comment section below each article.
May we act in beauty, act from inspiration, act together . . .
Editor in chief
Thank you Joseph for your profound and relevant words. We here in Australia are actually gathering around the fires that are burning out of control, many deaths and property loss while our Prime Minister continues to deny any connection with climate change. I’m not so sure of our collective voice being able to bring about change, sadly I think that we all may become engaged in physical action before our elected surrogate parents consider that the masses have more than a point to ponder. Anger and frustration will inevitably result in some token changes before the climate itself dictates our future.
“…our growing up beyond reliance on the surrogate parents we’ve positioned our elected officials to be for us”.
Thanks Wes, I appreciate your reflections on these matters. Even as we each do our best to contribute to the consciousness maturation needed that would naturally lead to a wise and compassionate response to our world on fire, I do feel it’s time to accept that we may not— individually and collectively—arrive at the needed level of response “before the climate itself dictates our future”, as you aptly say. How to be fully engaged in a desired outcome, and be unattached at the same time, is for me, a formidable challenge. Either way, I do know that wisdom and compassion are not limited by circumstance. Let us build our hearts strong for whatever is to come!