Buddhist Scholar, Systems Theorist, Ecologist, Teacher, Activist (1929[?]– )
Joanna Macy bridges worlds. As an author and experiential workshop leader, she spans Eastern and Western thought, links the past and future with the present, and joins human consciousness with perspective from other life forms. Macy calls this the “Work That Reconnects,” and its purpose is to help people realize that being alive at this time is an extraordinary opportunity to influence the fate of the Earth and survival of future generations.
What makes this time so fertile, says Macy, is that what she calls the Industrial Growth Society (IGS), which focuses our lives on “getting ahead” as it treats the world as “our supply house and sewer,” is self-destructing. At the same time, a vast movement toward a life-sustaining society is gaining momentum. “You will not see this revolution on television,” she says, most media having been subsumed by the IGS. On joannamacy.net, Macy articulates how this movement, which she and others call “the Great Turning,” is building.
Whether the life systems on which our existence relies can survive the IGS is the critical question. We don't need to know the answer, says Macy; the stakes are so high that intentional action to change our course is imperative. “How dare I be discouraged by a possibility so trivial as personal failure?” asks Macy, quoting one of her students. Nor does it matter exactly how one works toward a life-sustaining society, in her view. “The truth is that all aspects of the current crisis reflect the same mistake, setting ourselves apart and using others for our gain,” she writes.
As a deep ecologist, Macy draws upon her doctorate in Buddhism and systems theory, on her experience living in India and Africa and teaching worldwide, and on poetry and science, She addresses the reasons for the grief, fear, sadness, uncertainty, and numbness that prevail in modern life and keeps bringing attention back to what is sacred and true: the wondrously interconnected and intelligent web of life.