The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have been used by millions of people for addressing a variety of harmful addictions, not only with alcohol and other drugs, but gambling, sex, food, and the enabling behavior of those who deal with addicts, called co-dependents. The phenomena of addiction – using a substance or a process to the degree that it threatens the functionality and stability of your life – is widespread.
As a society we have a collective addiction. We are addicted to consuming the Earth. This addiction is threatening our health, our economy, our political stability, and the future of civilization as we know it. Our addictive consumption is deeply embedded into our economic system, which is wholly dependent on exploiting natural resources to produce goods. Economic prosperity means more shopping malls, car sales, and home building. As we pollute the biosphere with industrial waste, drive up global temperatures, and fight wars over resources, this addiction is life-threatening. It is even part of our identity: we are called “consumers,” continuously urged by advertising to consume as much as possible.
What if we adopted the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to address our addictive consumption of the Earth? Here’s what it might look like:
1. Admitted that we were powerless over the culture’s addictive consumption and destruction of the planet, and that our environmental crises had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that the divine power of Gaia, the living Earth, could run the biosphere correctly and heal the destruction over time.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and the legislation of our behaviors over to the balance of nature, as we understand it through our sciences and spiritual practices.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of the extent of the damage we have done to the planet.
5. Globally admitted the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to let the needs of Gaia override these destructive policies and behaviors.
7. Humbly returned to simpler ways of life, allowing our connection to Gaia to guide our habits.
8. Made a list of all systems we had harmed, and realized the need to make amends to them all.
9. Created direct policies, legislation, and practices to address such harm wherever possible.
10. Continued to monitor the way we live upon the Earth, and when wrong, promptly exposed it.
11. Sought, through appropriate activity and spiritual practice, our conscious connection with Gaia, seeking knowledge of Nature and the power to live collectively in harmony with Her.
12. Having experienced a global awakening as a result of these steps, celebrated and sought to help other people and nations find their way to a healthy relationship with their environment and fellow beings.
Anodea Judith, Ph.D.
Download PDF version of Using the 12 Steps for Global Recovery
Read Anodea’s latest book Waking the Global Heart.
Waking the Global Heart articulates a guiding vision for the transformational passage of our time. Positing that we are an adolescent culture in search of our future humanity, our maturation into the next era of human civilization will occur through an initiatory process that is at once both personal and collective. The agents of our initiation are the very by-products of our culture––from population expansion and environmental degradation to scientific breakthroughs and the blossoming of the World Wide Web. Such rites of passage force a shift in identity and awaken a fundamental change in values. A new identity must emerge that is based on planetary stewardship and global community, rather than ego-based individualism.
This requires the enchantment of a new myth––a fundamental awakening to an inspirational vision. Lasting transformation cannot be generated by fear, guilt, or control, but must be motivated from the heart. This comprises a shift from our current values based on the love of power to those motivated by the power of love. What awakens the heart is the soul of the world itself and the very real possibility of a wondrous future.
The primary focus of the current era, oriented to power, aggression, and personal ego must change. The old story of warring empires struggling for power must give way to a new myth of interdependent reciprocity. An era of the heart, based on values of integration, compassion, human rights, and environmental sustainability, is essential if we are to survive into the future. This shift takes us from opposition to synthesis, competition to cooperation, separation to integration, markets to networks, and most importantly: from power to love.
Waking the Global Heart chronicles the story of this passage. It takes the reader through an examination of three basic questions: Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going? The answers take us on a tour through 30,000 years of the human story, examining the mythic themes that guided past eras. Each era is compared to stages of individual psychological development from birth to adolescence, and correlates these stages of collective evolution to the levels of consciousness related to the chakra system and to masculine and feminine archetypal dynamics.
The book then describes the elements of a new organizing principle based on self-organizing networks, values of compassion and cooperation, synthesis of divorced polarities, and the awakening of both transcendent and immanent forms of spirituality. Through a fundamental shift from seeing our world as an object to embracing it as a complex and divine subject, we can fall back in love with the world once again, and join together in balance and respect with the original partner in our evolutionary journey. By this act we can send the message through the global brain that it is time to awaken the global heart.