We Are the Great Turning

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By Jessica Serrante

Audio read by author

Future beings have been visiting me in my dreams. Each night as I sleep, I find myself traveling to a campfire, a spot in a forest with the same soft mossy ground and smell of pine in the air as the woods I have loved and visited since I was a child. In this forest, there is a place for me by the fire where I can sit in the night as people have for all of human existence, to talk with this group of future beings about our lives and the world. 

My sense of their world is warm and blurry, as the places we travel to in our sleep tend to be when we wake, but I remember this: they tell me that the world they live in is my own world, one hundred and forty years from now. They tell me that their numbers are small, their world much less populated than my own, and that they live in communities of reciprocity and balance with Earth. As I meet these people and hear their stories, I rest easy in their answer to a question that I have spent my life asking: Will humanity survive this time of great destruction and separation? Or will we drive ourselves to extinction? They assure me. We have made it. We are still busy with the work of healing ourselves and our land from generations of destruction, but we have made it. Our non human sisters and brothers are healing too, and it is beautiful here. 

Last night, as we sat together again around the glowing, warm fire, I shared the deepest fears that I live with in my own life: That I may be among the last human beings to experience the stunning beauty of planet Earth. That I am too small and weak to transform our world from the racism, inequality, and ecological destruction that I inherited. That we are destined to destroy each other and the world around us, and I am powerless to change any of it. 

As I poured out my fears, they listened lovingly, and a child spoke from her spot on the ground between her mother’s feet and said “Your world is so scary and uncertain! We are here now, but in your time, you don’t know that we will be. How do you keep going? You say it seems impossible at times… how do you keep from giving up?”

As I answered, my own inner voice of wisdom, imbued with the wisdom of my ancestors, came through, clear like a mindfulness bell:

We act out the selfishness that is bred of fear that there will not be enough, and the hatred of others that is born of not knowing that we are enough.

In my time, we live amid so much destruction. The earth is warming rapidly and unpredictably bringing on rising seas and storms that are destroying our beloved homes. Our waters are poisoned and many are dying of disease and starvation while others live in opulence and ignorance of those who suffer. Two people in the same city can be living two distinctly different lives: one of oppression and poverty and the other of freedom and wealth.  Our people are so divided from one another that coming together often feels impossible. We watch ourselves and others and especially those in power act in ways that seem unfathomable. We act out the selfishness that is bred of fear that there will not be enough, and the hatred of others that is born of not knowing that we are enough. Our culture has forgotten how to live in the abundant and ancient flow of life, and our short-sighted actions reflect that disconnection.

Our culture normalizes this dominance and selfishness, and we are told that this way of being is as natural as the ocean tides. Many of us, however, know that this can not be true and that there is another way we desire to live.  To create this other way, we are beginning to reimagine our culture’s ways of seeing ourselves. We are imagining a world where humans live in reciprocity with Earth and where everyone’s needs are met, with no one left out. We are piecing together this vision with memories and knowledge from the precious few of us that still remember how to live this way, as our ancestors did. We are falling deeply in love with this vision, and sharing it bravely, tending to it like a seed, small and precious, that will someday multiply into a great harvest. 

We call our journey into this new way of being “The Great Turning”. Many who hear that this Great Turning is underway find inspiration in it, while others question whether it is truly possible. Cynics call us dreamers, naive and even dangerous terrorists.

The tentacles of the culture of dominance are wrapped around everything and seem to thwart our efforts at every turn. We are cultivating a new culture of collaboration and trust that is taking root, but the work is tireless and the dominance culture is fiercely defended by doubters and cynics. Sometimes our task leaves us so heartbroken and wounded that we start to believe them, but we support one another to remain resilient in our mission to live the collaboration and trust we dream of now. Like farmers in slow motion, we are planting the seeds of this culture that we dream of and we are tending to them. We trust that they will grow, even though the great harvest will likely come long after we are gone.

We already have within us all of the brilliance, power and beauty needed to restore our world.

  To tend to these seeds, we have to remember who we are. We have to remember ourselves despite what our culture tells us. We come from those who knew how to live in reciprocity with the earth. We already have within us all of the brilliance, power and beauty needed to restore our world. We are whole and complete, not broken as the dominance culture tells us. We deserve dignity and respect. Our yearning to make a difference in the world is good and right. We have to remember this, even when our own minds and the world around us tell us that it is not true. We are learning to remember this about ourselves and to help one another to remember it as well. This is our first step: to remember that we are the ones we have been waiting for all along. The ones who are planting the seeds of a beautiful, restored world. 

The stories of the dominance culture are deeply rooted and powerful, so we have to be tough and imaginative to remember that the world we are building together does not only live in our imaginations, but it is growing more real every day. The economy of reciprocity and the culture of collaboration are slowly coming into being through us carrying it, piece by piece, from the world of our dreams into the physical world. Even while we are slowly and steadily succeeding at building new ways of living, people tell us that what we are doing is impossible. At the beginning of this Great Turning, it is hard work to remember that our lives are the very real foundation of a future world, your world, that we will never get to see. 

…to be so in love with your world, which we dreamed up and are tending to, that even amid that disorienting cynicism we can chose to live in it ourselves.

You asked how we keep going, and the answer is that we have already chosen to live in your world even while it is being built. When we treat our vision for the world as a fantasy, we stay separate from it and we can also be tricked into believing that it is foolish of us to want it. To maintain our strength and carry on with the work of building and creating, it is imperative for us to cultivate a kind of mental toughness– to be so in love with your world, which we dreamed up and are tending to, that even amid that disorienting cynicism we can chose to live in it ourselves. We know that the Great Turning is not a fantasy.  It’s not something that we are waiting for. It lives in us and it is occurring through us. We choose not to wait for a savior or a miracle…we choose to live in it now. We are the Great Turning, and in our minds, harvest time has already come. 


 

Audio recording of biography

Jessica Serrante (32) is a Brooklyn based Life and Leadership Coach for builders of the Great Turning and Co-Founder of the Radical Support Collective. Her mission (and RSC’s) is to support changemakers to be nourished by their life and work rather than burning out and do work that truly lights them up. She is a climate activist, trainer and facilitator with a decade of experience leading and supporting activists. She is a professionally certified coach with over 600 hours of experience and a student and facilitator of the WTR.

This fall, Jess is offering a 3 month immersive program also called “We Are The Great Turning” that will blend the  personalized support of group coaching with the regenerative practices of WTR to support you to embody the Great Turning in your own life and actions.⁠ Learn more at radicalsupport.org/greatturning Follow Jess + RSC @radicalsupportcollective + radicalsupport.org

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