The Great Turning and #BlackLivesMatter
“So, what is the Great Turning?” This is a question I am asked frequently. And, honestly, most of the time, I want to look right back at people and say, “Good damn question.”
I do not have an elevator speech at the ready, and, despite how essential the concept is to my entire relationship to the world, I do not have an answer I can quickly rattle off to for the question.
When I think about that question, more and more, I think about storytelling. The Great Turning has a lot to do with storytelling, and specifically, the idea that we are all story tellers of the world, constantly telling ourselves and others stories about how the world works. We do this through what events and facts we highlight in conversation, and how to interpret the events of the world.
To me, the Great Turning is about making an active choice in that storytelling, a choice that both acknowledges the hardship, the grief, the breakdown, the deteriment of society that we are living through. It acknowledges the profound inequity and climate crisis we are.
But, it also acknowledges the radical and beautiful positive change we are living it. In acknowledges the profound reweaving of once severed threads of connection, the threads that bind us deeply to ourselves, to the more-than-human world, and to community both local and global, an interwoven tapestry of ourselves and the world and the multitude of beings, of sisters and brothers and elements that make that up.
I see evidence of this everywhere. In Bernie Sanders recent campaign for presidential nomination, both so deeply hopeful and terribly botched, and in North Carolina’s “bathroom bill”, which is a regressive and hateful limiting of our sense of humanity, but one that was forged as a reaction to a local municipality passing a law that did the opposite, and in the beautiful poetic justice that they are now being sued by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, a black woman from North Carolina.
And largely, I see it in what is happening in Charlotte and Tulsa, in the death we have seen happening all over the country. These deaths are terrifying, they are racially based and are a part of a long time national legacy of state-sanctioned killings of people of color, and particularly black men.
We also know that these killings are nothing new, that black men have been the victims of police brutality since the inception of this country, and that, what has changed, is that people are starting to wake up to this fact. We are starting to talk about it. And we have social media and documentation tools that let people get the word out. White people are finally, bit by bit, starting to wake up and see their deep interconnectedness with the black community, the way that their humanity is linked to everyone else’s to and understand themselves in these issues. A broader community is starting to grapple with these issues, and, amidst the hatred and violence, the state sanctioned repression and ongoing violence, people are beginning to demand something new. The justice department is stepping in. Police are wearing body cameras. Athletes and actors, famous people who have our national attention and the money to back their views, are speaking out.
And perhaps the most inspiring to me, is the way that, out of these ashes, there is a rising and growing groups of on the ground heros, normal people performing small and decentralized acts to show solidarity, courage and make a bold statement for the possibility of change.
And I se