“A Leading to Read”
A regular column by the Library Committee reviewing books in the Meetinghouse Library
ACTIVE HOPE: HOW TO FACE THE MESS WE’RE IN WITHOUT GOING CRAZY by Joanna Macy, PhD, and Chris Johnstone, MD.
Reviewed by Pat May
Many of you may be familiar with Joanna Macy, an activist for over five decades in movements for peace,justice, and the environment. She is a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. Chris Johnstone is a specialist in the psychology of resilience, happiness, and positive change. The two authors have conducted many workshops together, and this book comes out of that collaborative work.
Active Hope is not designed to be read quickly. Exercises throughout the book help the reader to be more deeply reflective or to try new skills. A focus of the book is “how to strengthen and support our intention to act.” The authors see each contribution as “our gift of Active Hope,” and active hope as a living practice.
“It does not require optimism . . . the guiding impetus is intention.”
The focus is on “how to strengthen and support our intention to act, so that we can best play our part, whatever that may be, in the healing of our world.” Active hope is our “finest response” to a situation.
The authors introduce their theme through three “stories”: three major “versions of reality” through which we “make sense of the events we see happening”:
Business as Usual: ”There is little need to change the way we live.”
The Great Unraveling: This story “draws attention to the disasters that Business as Usual is taking us toward, as well as those it has already brought about.”
The Great Turning: This story is about “the epochal transition from an industrial society committed to economic growth, to a life‐sustaining society committed to the healing and recovery of our world. . . . The central plot is finding and offering our gift of Active Hope.”
Within the Great Turning is the “Spiral of the Work that Reconnects.”
The acts of Going Forth, Coming from Gratitude, Honoring Our Pain for the World, and Seeing with New Eyes are the elements of this spiral. The authors’ experience is that the transformative power lies within the living out of this spiral as it “develops inner resources and outer community,” leading to greater creativity and “unexpected resilience.”
The book contains chapters devoted to each element of the spiral, as well as chapters on “A Wider Sense of Self,” “A Larger View of Time,” “A Different Kind of Power,” ”A Richer Experience of Community,” “Catching an Inspiring Vision,” “Daring to Believe it is Possible,” “Building Support Around You,” ”Maintaining Energy and Enthusiasm,” and being “Strengthened by Uncertainty.”
“Books about social and ecological change too often leave out a vital component: how do we change ourselves so that we are strong enough to fully contribute to this great shift?
Active Hope fills this gap beautifully, guiding readers on a journey of gratitude, grief, interconnection, and ultimately, transformation.”
Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine
The holdings in our Meeting library can be checked from your computer at home at http://www.librarything.com/catalog/PittsburghFriendsMtg
Pittsburgh Friends Meeting library book review
“A Leading to Read”