Becoming Warriors For The Human Spirit with Margaret J Wheatley, Ph.D.

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By studying the history of living systems and their natural life cycles, Wheatley has discovered that every living system goes through a life cycle: birth, creativity, flowering, harvesting, and then death. It was no surprise for her to realize that every civilization goes through this life cycle as well. She points out that we are at the end of a cycle and she warns us: “It’s important that we understand where we are in the pattern of collapse and not throw up our hands in despair (which is part of it – the acceptance) . . . but to understand: Now that this is happening, who do I choose to be?” Wheatley gives this advice for these perilous times: “We hold ourselves accountable for being present, for being good listeners, for not entering into every situation with a need to fix somebody or something. Instead, we must bear witness, be present, and in that, we are reminding people of the better qualities of being human. . . [It] has always puzzled me in the past how people in terrible situations describe their experience as joyful. And now I know what they’re talking about which is that they are experiencing a deep sense of communion, of connection with what it means to be human, and that is always joyful no matter what’s going on in your external life.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Margaret Wheatley is an internationally acclaimed writer, speaker, and teacher. She began caring about the world's peoples in 1966 as a Peace Corps volunteer in postwar Korea. She is cofounder and President Emerita of The Berkana Institute, a charitable foundation that works with people around the world to strengthen their communities using the wisdom and wealth already present in their people, traditions, and environment. She is a guide in leading people back to understanding who we are as humans, being able to create the conditions for our basic qualities of generosity, contribution, community, and love. She is a grand contributor in creating an Island of Sanity in the midst of wildly disruptive seas. 

Margaret J. Wheatley’s books include:

To learn more about the work of Margaret Wheatley go to 

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What are the cycles of civilizations that happen every ten generations
  • What are some examples of these consistent patterns of civilization from birth to death
  • How Wheatley learned from Army combat exercises that the failure to learn is our greatest tragedy
  • What are some examples that show us that the myth of progress will not save us
  • How the promise of connection of social media has not been fulfilled and has led to increased polarization
  • How Stephanie Pace Marshall is an example of how we can make better choices
  • What does it mean to become a “Warrior for the Human Spirit”
  • How we are “blessed by active presence of companions in a sacred world” - from a poem by Wheatley
  • What it takes to be an effective leader in your community
  • How we must live in a place of clarity beyond either hope or fear
  • Why it is hard but necessary work to face the reality of our times and yet choose to be present and helpful
  • How the work of Catholic nuns demonstrates an example of right action
  • What Vaclav Havel had to say about hope 

Host: Justine Willis Toms            Interview Date: 12/7/2018            Program Number: 3665

Music Playlist

From Album: Oracle
Artist: Michael Hedges
1996 Windham Hill #CSL 02

Opening Essay: Track 01 The 2nd Law
Music Break 1: Track 02 Ignition
Music Break 2: Track 03 Baal T'shuvah
Music Break 3: Track 03 Baal T'shuvah (continued)