This essay is presented in honour of Jack Christie and his life-long dedication to the promotion of an ecosystem approach to the management of human affairs in the biosphere. The essay has four sections. First, I review and reflect on the personal and professional interactions I had with Jack Christie for more than 25 years. Those interactions often centred on questions of ecosystem management in the Great Lakes and beyond, but especially in the Bay of Quinte area where Jack lived and worked. Second, I consider the role of metaphorical symbols in shaping our interactions with and behaviour towards ecosystems. I offer arguments for adopting a metaphor—an ecosystem is a stepped pyramid—as a basis for shifting our thinking mode regarding ecosystems. Third, I turn to an examination of some of the means by which human society might return to ecological sustainability. I describe and compare ecological, social, and economic mechanisms. Fourth, given the current situation and the options, I conclude with a personal view of our future prospects.