We can still see justice as an eye for an eye, even if it makes us all blind.

Danny’s recent letter to our Fellows community advocates a heart-centred approach to living. What message could be more important today, given the weight of the crises we face.

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Danny Almagor OAM
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Dear Friends,

As I write this, my heart is filled with sadness. A war has begun between Israel and Gaza. There will be blood and pain and death on both sides, and we will be no closer to peace. I find it hard to understand the strategy of aggression and violence, pre-emptive or responsive, as a means to peace and freedom. When we feel wronged, or when terrible things happen against us, most of us want justice, and unfortunately still see justice as an eye for an eye, even if it makes us all blind. Here in Australia we are lucky to live in peace, but our social and political divides are also affecting us, as we see with the vitriol surrounding the upcoming referendum on an Indigenous voice to parliament. It’s easy and quite natural to sit in righteous indignation during times like this, but I must remind myself that there are good people on all sides. This is not to say that all sides are equal, or that some actions aren’t wrong or destructive, or that there aren’t nefarious actors poisoning the well for everyone, but to remind myself not to hate – and become the very thing that I am fighting against.

This is why we created the Small Giants Academy: to promote the wisdom of centring empathy and compassion in our hearts, and orient our actions towards a systemic transformation of our economy and society that supports all humans’ flourishing while living in harmony with the natural world. Towards this end, we have curated an incredible line-up of upcoming speakers and programs. Last night we hosted have Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen at the White House, discussing the creation of a safe and just online world. Coming up, author Sarah Wilson is talking to Berry about how to make sense of these complex times; peace activist and national geographic explorer Aziz Abu Sarah on crossing boundaries and ‘seeing the other side’, and Nate Hagens speaking about our energy blindness and the great simplification that’s heading our way. In December we have our annual Fellows Summer Gathering. Looking into the new year, we have Dan Ariely sharing his new book ‘Misbelief’ and why people believe what they do and so much more. MBE 2024 applications are closing soon (tell everyone you know to apply, there are still a couple spots left), we have our next Journey to Impact scheduled for February for those investors among you, and a list of impact safaris that will blow your minds including the Bhutan Gross National Happiness safari, takayna (Tarkine) forest safari and our Scandinavia sensemaking safari which I returned from a couple of weeks ago.

Speaking of the Scandinavia Impact Safari, it has been a complicated experience to process and particularly difficult to come back to a relatively sleepy Australia. We met with such extraordinary people doing incredible work around the world and over the next months, we will bring them closer to you through our programs and events. One idea I would like to share was from Daniel Schmachtenberger, who we hung out with a few times during the trip. Amongst his alarming updates around the meta-crisis and our current predicament, he shared a sense of the psychological journey most of us go through. Daniel described these stages as pre-tragic, tragic and post-tragic.

In the pre-tragic stage, we are not aware of the reality (or we ignore it), even if it is upon us. Think of it as someone who has a persistent stomach ache but doesn’t go to the doctor for fear of finding out they have a malignant cancer growing. How many people know something is wrong, but don’t want to face it? This is the premise of the movie Don’t Look Up, which would be hilarious if it weren’t true. There are many times I wish I was still there, in the bliss of pre-tragic unawareness, before I took that soul-crushing, reality-awakening red pill. The truth is, we have some serious crises facing us. While we were in Stockholm for the Impact Week, the team from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, who are working on identifying and measuring our ecological planetary boundaries, updated us and the world that we have now overshot six of the nine planetary boundaries including biodiversity loss, climate change, chemical pollution and freshwater flows.  

Which leads us into the tragic. This is where we must face the reality of our predicament, and experience the inevitable grief that comes from realising the devastating loss of many things we love – we are losing dozens, maybe hundreds, of species a week to extinction, driven almost entirely by humans due to deforestation, poaching, overfishing, climate change, etc. Each of us have to face the tragic reality of our own mortality at some point in our lives, knowing we will return to dust one day. All that lives is mortal and it is overwhelming to think of losing that which we love and care for, especially if we know we are the cause of much of that loss. We need to sit in that pain and grief for a moment, and know that is comes from love, for if we didn’t love the world, losing it would not be that sad.

However, it is not healthy to live in the tragic, grief state. At some point we integrate the loss and come to terms with the grief. This is the post-tragic stage that Daniel talks about and seems to come with a new zest for life and living, falling deeper in love with what we still have and working out how to protect it. This is why many people who have survived a terrible diagnosis often say that it was facing death that taught them how to really live. The impulse is to live and bring more life into the world. Plant a garden, regenerate a forest, travel, paint, sing, love your children or make more – I still find it incredible that my grandparents, after surviving the holocaust, gave birth to my mother within a year of the war ending. The post-tragic is where we are inspired again to get up and do something.

I am still skirting back and forth from the tragic to post tragic. I think I am out of it and then I read the next IPCC report or watch my beloved Israel fall back into violence and war. If the reports from the field nudge me back into the tragic, it is my community of activists, artists and leaders (that’s you), and the incredible work that you do and that we are able to do together that keeps me hopeful and reminds me of my love of the world and the work. It is time in nature, hiking in takayna (Tarkine) or taking a sauna and a swim in the archipelago around Stockholm that reinvigorate me.

That is what I am coming away from this trip with. To stay in the hopeful post-tragic state, to stay in love with the world. I need to be connected to it: to nature and to my community.

With love,


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