Gentle Action

Close-up of a drop of water hitting the surface of a calm body of water.So much in our lives seems beyond our control. There are the big issues: global warming, wars and violence, the economy. And there are the day-to-day issues in our personal lives: health, relationships, jobs and careers, lack of time and money.

With the big issues we try to play our small parts, but mostly we hope that those "in charge" will figure things out and act responsibly. Or we may wonder in despair, “How can a single person make any real difference?” Even with the little things we struggle to make healthy, lasting changes in our lives.

Gentle action challenges our core assumption that we need to be powerful, wealthy, or in control to improve things in our own lives, as well as in the world.

Gentle action offers a way of fostering change that is based on the new science of chaos or complexity theory. As we come to understand the process of change in complex systems (almost all the systems that are within and around us), we see that it arises continually from within, through the intricate interweavings of many small events. Change does not require massive interventions from outside: indeed, outside interventions often have no effect or worse, actually destabilize a system.

Through gentle action, we can use a system's own processes and energy to guide it sensitively towards a state of sustainable wellbeing.  

by John Miller, MAE & F. David Peat, PhD