What is the Great Work?

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Thomas Berry, an ecological visionary and Passionist monk, has written several books concerning the way forward to a healthy planet.  He summarizes his ideas in The Great Work. In this wide ranging, readable book, Berry, a cultural historian, defines a great work.  The Greeks had a great work in applying reason to the natural order.  The Romans had a great work in bringing order to their known world.  The Chinese have a great work that has created a humane and human scale culture.  Native Americans have a great work in their symbiotic relationship with the natural world in which they live.

Our Great Work, the work of our generation, lies yet before us.  It is this:  create a  relationship between human beings and the planet in which our presence is at least benign and at best a positive good.   I have begun work, in fits and starts, on this, because in the end it has to be each of us, acting in concert, who will call this new world into being. 

There are many actions we can take, but they need to move beyond recycling and buying green products at the grocery store.  Here a few I’m trying to work into my life:  being a locavore (eating food grown in our region), rationing trips by car and plane, planning for a hybrid car as our next purchase.  In the main though I believe I need to become political again, working on my old issues of economic justice, but this time in a way that will move a double agenda forward, justice for those left behind captialism and rethinking our economic order so that it develops positive signals for ecologically friendly business decisions.  More on this at another point.

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