How do we respond when we see crisis after crisis unfolding in our world? We may want to do something, but what? It all seems so overwhelming—so beyond our capacity as an individual to make an impact. Actually, we can make a difference!
One of the most important steps we can take is to recognize how we’re personally contributing to the unraveling of our world and then begin to make lifestyle changes. But what if we feel powerless to do so?
Last week our Heart and Soul Group discussed chapter six of Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone’s book, Active Hope.
This chapter discusses two types of power. The old view of power is based on dominance, win-lose, and advantage over others. This type of power is described as power-over. It sabotages our ability to take action. We’re all familiar with power-over, and it doesn’t feel good. This kind of power is relegated to the few at the expense of the many. Example: the wealthy buy the right to affect decisions in Washington.
A new kind of power is called power-with. This power is about being able to creatively address the disastrous condition of our planet in a way that leads to healing and transformation instead of lapsing into denial or retreating into despair. Power-with is about people working together and cooperating to produce meaningful change. In power-with, our power is expressed in what we do, what we say and how we live. Example: Working with neighbors to create a community vegetable garden. This kind of power feels fabulous!
In an article entitled Three Dimensions of The Great Turning, Macy describes three ways we can use this new kind of power to play a supportive role in meaningful change:
- being an activist (documenting, whistle-blowing, protesting, lobbying)
- learning the dynamics of the Industrial Growth Society to determine what changes need to be made
- examining our values to allow a shift in our consciousness to take place
Can you see how empowering these actions are? When choosing to act in any one of these three ways, we can overcome our feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Our individual efforts then merge with countless others who are also working to heal our world.
It’s important to realize that we won’t necessarily see the results of each individual step we take. The benefits of our actions may not be visible to us at the time we make them, but we can’t let that stop us or discourage us. We need to trust that we are making a difference. Everything we do has a ripple effect that extends into the world and contributes to a result that is greater than the sum of its parts.
We don’t always have to know the results of our actions for them to be effective. We just need to play our part. It’s helpful to remember that our actions are not separate, but are part of a larger whole that is helping to heal the Earth. Every action counts!
So go ahead, begin to use your new-found power to contribute to the healing of our world! When you do, you’ll be part of the shift in consciousness that is taking place right now.