The Reversal (the What)
In the ecopsychology-based non-profit my wife Allison and I founded and operated for over a decade, an integral aspect of our workshops was sharing ways to heal the body/mind/spirit split and reintegrating our rational selves with our spiritual selves. Depending on the audience, we called it Modern Deism, Shamanism for the 21st Century, or just reconnecting with nature. Others often refer to it as ecospirituality. We finally just started calling it Rational Spirituality.
Within Enlightenment thinking, the rational mind is opposed to and must control the emotional and spiritual mind, and all are understood to be separate from the physical body. The re-integration of these relationships is integral to The Reversal. There are many ways to heal the human-nature split, with Rational Spirituality being a form fully congruent with natural systems principles.
Rational Spirituality synthesizes current thought in ecopsychology, deep ecology, and systems science to provide a foundation for scientific inquiry as well as a framework for expressing spirituality in daily life. It presents a way of being that is holistically integrated with the web of life, helps people embody the truth of interconnectedness (the sense of belonging and/or unity experience), and names a process and practice for interacting with the world at large that grounds the healthy and fulfilling lifestyles necessary for a paradigm shift that honors and celebrates life.
Relocalization: Implementing Ecological Economics and Earth Jurisprudence
The next foundational pillar in The Reversal is the concept known as relocalization-- a strategy to build societies based on the local production of food, energy and goods, and the local development of currency, governance and culture. Relocalization is a replacement system for the Industrial Growth Society and provides a pragmatic and dynamic process for achieving sustainability and creating a sustainable future. Relocalization is both antithesis and antidote to all aspects of the Triumvirate of Collapse.
Relocalization is a whole-systems approach to creating an alternative public infrastructure that exists within bioregional carrying capacity limits. Instead of being dependent on quantitative growth to deliver progress and prosperity, it focuses on creating qualitative improvements that are vibrant and increase resiliency. Rather than focusing on simply creating more jobs, it seeks to develop ways to provide meaningful work or right livelihood to all members of a community in ways that improve quality of life while remaining within carrying capacity restraints.
As a concrete strategy, relocalization moves production of food, goods and energy closer to the point of consumption, increases food and energy security, and empowers local decisions in the development of currency, culture and governance. It also carries a commitment to reduce consumption and improve environmental and social conditions.
A movement highly congruent with relocalization is bioregionalism, which brings the importance of sense of place clearly into the picture. It also promotes local control of distributed systems or decentralization. Other congruent offerings include permaculture, Transition Initiatives, intentional communities and ecocity development.
Integral to the success of relocalization are two concepts that are foundational to The Reversal themselves: 1) steady-state local living economies based on ecological economics and 2) shifting our governance and laws to a system based on an Earth jurisprudence that expresses the Nature’s Trust frame as its regulatory framework.
We will be much more successful at effectively reaching the overall goal of a sustainable future when we take the emergent social attributes of sustainability—ecological integrity, social justice, economic equity, and participatory democracy—and continue then to develop an economic system that explicitly supports these attributes as primary to the health of the economy. This requires the power of law and widespread support.
All of the above brings us to the final core foundational piece of The Reversal: The creation of multi-issue coalitions that build the critical mass necessary to advocate and implement sustainable, progressive change. One big advantage of autonomous coalition organizations, as opposed to a side project of an issue advocacy group, is that they don’t have to get caught up in the ever-increasing multitude of single issue fires but can concentrate instead on incapacitating the arsonist and building an alternative that is less fire-prone.
Coalition building seems to be a perennial secondary issue of many non-profits and activists, but previous efforts have displayed a number of common pitfalls. These include sectarian factionalization and issue prioritization as well as a tendency to be so inclusive that they are ultimately unwilling to take a stance on controversial issues for fear of alienating someone, especially potential funders who are also pillars of the status quo community.
There are a few core requirements for successful coalitions: a common goal, a set of shared values, and a non-hierarchical toolkit. The latter is extremely important as coalitions are mutually supportive networks and must be organized as such to be effective. A sustainable future built upon the Earth Charter values congruent with natural systems principles meets these requirements. And there’s absolutely nothing stopping us from starting today.
Change: Rapid, Systemic, Widespread
While not a pillar in the foundation of The Reversal, there are a number of studies and examples that provide a basis for future hope. Change can occur quickly over a very wide range in a number of contexts at various scales. We do not need to wait for generations for it to incrementally unfold or for a shift in human consciousness to occur. We have all the technology and consciousness required today.
An example of rapid change most people are familiar with is the “Aha” or Eureka event, that sudden dawn of realization when the solution to a problem appears. Studies in neurobiology show that neuronal growth starts taking place in under an hour by simply going from an impoverished to an enriched environment. Paulo Freire demonstrated that “illiteracy” can be overcome in as little as three weeks. And then there are the studies showing the spectacular failures of radical behaviorism—because it seems the closer an animal gets to its natural environment as the artificial stimulus is removed, the more quickly it reverts to more natural behaviors. Although the Industrial Growth Society is the largest experiment in operant conditioning the world has ever seen, wilderness therapy shows us that culture is really only about three days deep.
The average person is bombarded with at least 5,000 advertising messages a day, but most of us really don’t desire “Affluenza.” The good news is that healing from it requires neither suffering nor sacrifice. How could it possibly be a sacrifice to give up the 80% of cancers that are caused by Industrialism? Putting industrial culture to rest actually opens up possibilities. We Cultural Creatives are already 95 million strong in Europe and North America. Ironically, a common complaint among us is that we feel we’re alone and that no one else sees what’s going on and that something needs to be done about it. Our sense of disconnection is enforced by the Enlightenment myth of rugged individualism. This is one direct reason reconnecting is so integral to The Reversal. The need for reconnecting is further validated by current evidence that because genes can only express through their relationships with their environment, group selection is the important factor in evolution—not the individual selfish gene. In other words, change will accelerate when we find one another and start co-creating.
Last but not least, there is the example of rapid societal change everyone loves to use: the industrial retooling of WWII America in under three years. Of course today we have more infrastructure than we need, albeit in dire need of repair. Restoration and repair are going to become important vocations for right livelihood in a sustainable future.