If we’re going to help people take wise action and imagine a better future amid coming troubles, then we will have to help people find that better future within themselves, so they can live that better future out into the world. And that’s what we hope to do together in 2024.
We humans as a species are not attracted to change. We like things the way we like things. And yet the first words out of Jesus’ mouth tell us that he’s come to give us a philosophy of change: “Repent,”—change your mind—“for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2).
We usually think of resilience as the ability to recover from an adverse experience and pick up our lives where we left off…. But there are times when adversity permanently changes our reality and we can’t go back to the way things were…. Resilience then becomes the work of coming through the adversity.
—Alice Updike Scannell
In each generation, we are tested. Will we love our neighbors as ourselves? How do we survive together? How do we resist together? How do we respond to unspeakable brutality and the collective oppression of our neighbors?
People who fail to do something right, by even their own definition of right, are those who often break through to enlightenment and compassion.
The roots of fear run deep. The hope we embrace must run just as deep. No matter what happens we must keep dancing, hand in hand, joined in a circle of equality, constantly moving in the slow rotation of justice and prayer.
Week One Practice
New Year, New Opportunities
Joanna Macy (b. 1929) has worked for decades to support the Great Turning, a movement towards life-sustaining cultures and economies. She writes:
When a change wants to happen, it looks for people to act through. How do we know when a change wants to happen? We feel the want inside us. There is a desire, a tugging at us to be involved. But that doesn’t make the change inevitable, because standing in our way are all those who say we’re wasting our time, that it isn’t possible, that it will be too hazardous. For the change to happen through us, we need to counter those voices. A shift can happen within us when we break through a resistance that has been holding us back.
When we see with new eyes, we recognize how every action has significance, how the bigger story of the Great Turning is made up of countless smaller stories of communities, campaigns, and personal actions.… If you were freed from fear and doubt, what would you choose to do for the Great Turning?
Macy and co-author Chris Johnstone offer several practical questions to help identify one’s goals and resources for change:
- If you knew you could not fail, what would you most want to do for the healing of our world?
- What specific goal or project could you realistically aim to achieve in the next twelve months that would contribute to this?
- What resources, inner and outer, do you have that will help you do this? …
- What resources, inner and external, will you need to acquire? What might you need to learn, develop, or obtain?
- How might you stop yourself? What obstacles might you throw in the way?
- How will you overcome these obstacles?
- What step can you take in the next week, no matter how small—making a phone call, sending an email, or scheduling in some reflection time—that will move you toward this goal?
Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy (Novato, CA: New World Library, 2012), 198, 199.
Image credit: Jenna Keiper, Keeping the Candle Lit (detail), New Mexico, photograph, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.
Resilience requires endurance – we keep watch to keep the candle lit.