The Great Work

“The Great Work now, as we move into a new millennium, is to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner.” Thomas Berry, The Great Work, 1999

“The lands of the planet call to humankind for redemption. But it is a redemption of sanity, not a supernatural reclamation project at the end of history…. The future of humankind lies waiting for those who will come to understand their lives and take up their responsibilities to all living things.” Vine Deloria Jr., God is Red, 2003

“To try to heal the body alone is to collaborate in the destruction of the body. Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing. To be healed we must come with all the other creatures to the feast of Creation.” Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America, 1977

“The Way has a unifying thread. When you attain the root, it connects to a thousand branches and ten thousand leaves. This enables you to promote order when in a high position, to forget lowliness when in a low position, to enjoy work when you are poor, and to handle danger when you are at an impasse. When there is a very cold winter, frosty and snowy, then you know the strength of the evergreens.” The Masters of Huainan, 2nd century BCE

“Our collective experience of the past sixty years has revealed long-term damage resulting from the industrialization of three necessities: education, food, and medicine. We are now at an impasse: the food makes us sick, the medicine fails to restore our health, and a fog of propaganda obscures the solutions to our problems.

We need to remember our natural heritage. Anywhere on earth at any time in history, plants have surrounded us. They produce and inhabit the air we breathe, they provide our food including animal products, as bacteria they colonize our entire digestive tract and enable us to assimilate what we have eaten, and populate the pores of our skin to repel disease organisms. We humans evolved along with our food and medicine; sixty or six thousand years cannot change our dependence on plants.

Plants mediate our entire existence on this planet. Only hubris persuades us that human artiface can improve the ability of the plants to nourish or to heal. But the wings of Icarus are melting, our downfall is imminent. Now our best hope for survival is to study the long ancestral record, to re-learn to choose and combine a wide variety of whole foods, and to restore our lands to the biodiversity that gives plants their full complement of nutrients and their potency as agents for our health.” – Jean Giblette, 2009