Dialogue: Joanna Macy

 

Thanks for "Living Economies for a Living Planet" Let me tell you two ways that it enriches my understanding of our common work and will enrich my teaching in classroom and workshops (beginning this week!)

1. You provide welcome new language. Specifically:

  • Calling it the "age of empire" places the system we're confronting in a larger historical context, and takes it beyond outmoded polarities of capitalism-socialism to their underlying values and apprehensions of life purpose.
  • "Suicide economy," a telling moniker for our self-devouring system.
  • "Living economies"; this is juicier than "sustainable" and more directly suggests the self-organizing character of living systems.
  • "Live into being." This is a marvelous verb. It is more accurate than organize, build, construct, create, because it transcends the one-way causal flow those verbs denote. (As Sarvodaya says, "we build the road and the road builds us.") Also, in a simple and most economic way, it conveys the new epistemology: that we cannot know the solution ahead of time or operate from a blueprint, because the knower coevolves with the known, the actor changes with the action she undertakes.

2. You provide a new frame for thinking strategically. The succession of ecosystems is a brilliant analogy. It will answer many confusions and doubts on the part of would-be activists I work with, who are afraid of being adversarial. You and your analogy show that the work to be done is not about conquering, eradicating, or even reforming or dismantling. It's about displacing, or simply moving on to the next stage. It's about "walking away", as you put it, from a system that puts us in bondage. This has huge psychological and spiritual implications, and I'm very grateful to you for giving us that additional clarity of insight and language.

Joanna

Return to DIALOGUE

Originally Posted July 21, 2001