In each historical epoch people are given a special role—in one age, the settling of new lands, in another the building of great cathedrals, the creation of artistic, philosophical, religious, or scientific works, or the shaping of political structures and ideas. The great works of prior periods are seen in such activities as the movement of the first people out of Africa in the Paleolithic period; the creation of language, rituals and social structures in hunter-gatherer communities; the establishment of agriculture communities in the Neolithic period; the development of the great classical civilizations; and, in the modern period, advances in technology, urban civilization, new ideals of government and human rights, the modern business enterprise, and globalism.
Our Great Work is not something we choose. It is something we find ourselves thrown into by virtue only of being born in a certain time and place. The task may seem overwhelming, one coming in response to some huge historical difficulty, but just as we are given our historical task by some power beyond ourselves, we must also believe we are given the abilities to fulfill this task.
The Great Work into which we and our children are born comes in response to the devastation of the planet caused by human activity. We are facing a breakdown in the life systems that can only be understood by comparison with events that marked the great transitions in the geo-biological eras of Earth’s history, such as the extinction of the dinosaurs and countless other species when the Mesozoic era ended and our present Cenozoic era began. Our task is to move from our modern industrial civilization with its devastating impact to that of benign presence. It is to move from a terminal Cenozoic era to an emerging Ecozoic era.
This is an arduous and overwhelming task, one exceeding in its complexity that ever offered to humans, for it is not simply one of adjustment to disturbance of human life patterns, but one of dealing with the disruption and termination of the geo-biological systems that have governed the functioning of the planet in the 66-million-year reign of the Cenozoic era in the history of the planet Earth.
From the earliest times in human history we have been acculturated into a microphase awareness of our place in the Earth system, yet we find ourselves now at a place where humans as a whole have a macrophase impact. Now we have a task and role emerging from our modern capacities and dimensions that has never been conceived in the human venture.
CES is devoted to supporting people in the Great Work.