Your turn to be the change

by Maureen Jack-LaCroix

“YOU MUST be the change you want to see in the world.” This profoundly grounded and compelling call to action by Mahatma Gandhi is the founding principle of the social change program developed by Be the Change Earth Alliance, and it reveals more to me every time I consider it.

Along with the mandate of taking personal responsibility to clarify and live what we value, with this statement Gandhi challenges our integrity to act in alignment with those values.

The challenges of our time are calling for change on a scale we do not yet understand. Even when we start to recognize, through scientific and spiritual insight, the truth of our interconnectedness, the complexity of the natural and social systems in which we operate far exceeds our ability to comprehend.

Whether or not you have moved through decades of personal growth and spiritual exploration, we are now collectively entering a new moment in time that calls us to transform our operating perspective from “I” into “we.” To quote Ken Wilbur, this is a “transcend and include” process. We must not lose the personal responsibility and unique offerings of the “I,” but we must also embrace the collective responsibility and wisdom of the “we.”

We are being asked to trust our collective potential as never before – to let go of our competitive, individualistic tendencies – both personally and organizationally – and to trust more deeply in the unfamiliar, and sometimes chaotic, collaborative approach. There are so many aspects required in this change that one person alone cannot see the emergent social order.

I like Ken Wilbur’s maxim that no theory or model is either all right or all wrong. It opens me up to listen for understanding, instead of agreement. This is a primary protocol for Be the Change circles. When listening for the unique perspective each of us has, we hear the broader collective wisdom that the circle brings.

What a rich and juicy range of issues and changes to consider in the global shift that is underway at this time. That’s the exciting aspect of “The Great Turning” “un-conference’” we have planned for May 23. It is an opportunity to dialogue with a dynamic spectrum of change agents, each speaking to an issue about which they are passionate and knowledgeable. Be they eco-warriors or eco-innovators, social justice missionaries or spiritual activists, they all hold an important piece of the puzzle. Our process is to honour everyone and to challenge everyone, to broaden and deepen our understanding so that we can consider the personal and collective actions we can take to be the change we want to see in the world.

Dr. Joanna Macy stated, “The Great Turning is our essential adventure, as we shift from an industrial world view to one that engenders a life-sustaining civilization.” This systems theorist and honoured teacher is deeply grounded in Buddhist wisdom and she calls us to be both hospice and midwife in these times of great change.

To hospice the old structures and systems that do not serve life on Earth as they fall away. At the same time to mindfully, and with great intention, midwife the emergence of new life sustaining systems and structures that will support the health and well-being of our planet and all members of the Earth community.

We know that we cannot do this work alone. It is essential to connect with others, to share insights and stories of change. We must talk together, feast together and nourish ourselves in a community dedicated to environmental sustainability, personal meaning and social justice.

The Great Turning will help coalesce the collective wisdom that informs our community and generate cross-sector collaborations and collective actions to accelerate the shift that is presently underway. While the pathways to a restored Earth may already be here, no single person or community will lead the way forward. Many voices are needed. Yours is one of them! 

Maureen Jack-LaCroix is executive director of Be the Change Earth Alliance and producer of the first annual un-conference, The Great Turning, Saturday, May 23, Maritime Labour Centre, 1880 Triumph St, Vancouver. Tickets available at or call 604-269-9874.

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