"Voices from the Future Time," by friends of Joanna Macy (Journal of Traditional Acupuncture)
Friends of Joanna Macy--the author, innovator, teacher, mystic, futurist--prepared and performed this piece in her honor at an award ceremony sponsored by the Center for Psychological Studies in the Nuclear Age at Harvard University in December 1989. At the ceremony, the speakers, acting as representatives of a future time, addressed their remarks to Joanna. Macy. In the article below, however, they speak to all those in the late twentieth century who were part of the Great Turning--those who worked diligently to solve problems of global suffering and planetary survival. The Journal thanks Joanna Macy for permission to broaden the script to address each of us involved in "world work."
Hear the voices from the future...
Voice: Student at the Institute of Gaian Studies
"I am a student speaking to you from the year 2189. I am in my second year at the Institute of Gaian Studies, located in the Eastern region of Tibet.
"As I study the early history of Gaian thinking, I am filled with gratitude for the way you applied ancient wisdom, such as that of the Buddhist Dharma and of Taoism, and the later insights of general systems theory, to the problems of global suffering and planetary survival.
"Though you are now long dead, this Institute carries on your work. I speak across the centuries today to tell you that in this, and in many other ways, you will never be forgotten. We try to imagine what it was like back in the time of the Great Turning, the time when you lived and did your work. It must have been a tortured time, a time of fear and uncertainty. I only hope there was also joy, and the warmth of human closeness, for you and those around you.
"We know the threats to our beloved Earth which pervaded your time, and we thank you particularly for creating a new psychology for global survival. We know that Albert Einstein called for a new mode of thinking in the nuclear age, and we feel that you contributed to that task--not just new thoughts, but a new mode of thinking, one that joined mind and heart and spirit.
"Well, I must return now to my report on 'Macy's adaptation of Buddhism to the Gaian System'--it's due Monday morning, and I've hardly begun. You see that some things have not changed! I bid you farewell, and tell you once more, you are not forgotten."
Voice: A worker at one of the Nuclear Guardian Sites
"I am a worker at Mahatma Gandhi Nuclear Guardian Site, in the place Where the old Three Mile Island nuclear power plant once stood.
"I have been reading some of the early reports of the Fire Group created back in the late twentieth century, which is now almost 200 years ago. Through the Nuclear Guardianship Project, you helped create a new method for storing nuclear wastes for the many thousands of years they remain deadly.
"We at the Gandhi Site, and all those in residence at the many other Guardian Sites around the world (my brother works at the Gorbachev Site, where Chernobyl once stood)--we thank you for having the courage to create this new form, for seeing that a monastic community would be needed to hold the discipline of guardianship for centuries. As I leave now for the evening meditation, I salute you with the universal sign for peace and earth caring, now used in every part of the world--two hands raised, cupped, over the head, two hands holding the Earth. We thank and honor you for your vision and courage."
Voice: Shaman of the Surui Tribe, in the Brazilian Amazon
"I am Itabira, Shaman of the Surui people, of Rondonia, in the Brazilian Amazon. In the 1990s there were barely a hundred of my people left, though we had once numbered in the many thousands. Our women had stopped bearing children; our people were diseased and no longer had the will to live. My ancestors prepared at that time for the death of our people--we performed the ritual for the end of time.
"But then through the efforts of many people to wake up the world, there came a great change. The destruction of our rainforest home ceased--the logging, the burning, the killing of people and animals--all of it gradually came to an end. My people survived, and now we live--WE LIVE!
"We honor the work you did to help in this great cause, the work you called Deep Ecology, and which we know simply as the basic truth of life.
"And we would tell you something from the vantage point of this future time. There was eventually a great discovery. A medicinal herb which we had used for over 50,000 years in our healing ceremonies; was found to hold the cure for many of the cancers that afflicted your people. This cure might never have been found if we had disappeared. But we did not disappear. Thanks to you, and to many others, we live. WE LIVE!"
Voice: Colymbus glacialis, the common North American loon
"Greetings from the future world, O human friends. We know that many years ago, you spent precious hours resting from your labors by the lakes that are our home. You listened to the loons, calling far out across the water.
"Many, many years later, over 200 years later, as you humans count time, we are still here. I am Colymbus glacialis, the loon, and I call now, not across the water, but across time, and I call to let you know the sun still rises here on the lake, and the morning mists still lift from the water. The sun still sets slowly in the evening and the call of the loons is still heard by the humans.
"This beauty still exists, and your caring for all this still renders your presence here. Your work to care for all the living things of the Earth has left its vibrant trace. Your spirit became part of these lakes; and here it will reside, lifting with the morning mist, and floating across the water with the cry of the loons."
(Words by Joanna Macy's friend and colleague, Kevin McVeigh.)
In the spiral ribbons of our cells, you are here. In our rage for the burning forests, the poisoned fields, the oil-drowned seals, you are here. You beat in our hearts through late-night meetings. You accompany us to clear-cuts and toxic dumps and the halls of the lawmakers. It is you who drive our dogged labors to save what is left.
O you who will walk this Earth when we are gone, stir us awake. Behold through our eyes the beauty of this world. Let us feel your breath in our lungs, your cry in our throat. Let us see you in the poor, the homeless, the sick. Haunt us with your hunger, hound us with your claims, that we may honour the life that links us.
You have as yet no faces we can see, no names we can say. But we need only hold you in our mind, and you teach us patience. You attune us to measures of time where healing can happen, where soil and souls can mend. You reveal courage within us we had not suspected, love we had not owned.
O you who come after, help us remember: we are your ancestors. Fill us with gladness for the work that must be done.