Old Tulki's story
A short story by
This short story is an envisioning of the author's son, Tulki Joe Jenkins, born in May 1996, telling his life story when in his eighties (in the 2070s). Whether or not it lands up being an accurate forecast of future scenarios is yet to be seen! Its purpose is to provoke thought and to entertain, and to lob into the pool some perspectives on future history and the possible interaction of 'real life' with miraculous/paranormal realities. Do enjoy! And thanks to Tulki for playing a role and provoking this outburst!
I turned four in the year of the Millennium. The Millennium had no significance to me then, though for my parent's generation it represented the beginning of a turning of the tide. My father was very involved in the matter - he used to sit there for hours on end, pounding away on his computer, writing about world issues and the future. This was in the days before computers talked. So much has happened since then. I've travelled this world, and in my trances I've visited a few other worlds too, yet here I am, back where I was born in Glastonbury, returned to source. During my life, it has thoroughly transformed.
I was born on the floor of our house in the Old Town, nestling under the Chalice Park. In those days, birth at home was still a radical option, since most people used to scurry off to hospitals to give birth - yes, strange, isn't it? They somehow felt safer: humankind was edging towards giving birth to its children in laboratories, giving them numbers before a name. I was one of a minority who managed to be born without getting tampered with in this manner. Even so, though I started well, the world was more difficult to grow up in than it is now. I could smell the pollution from the road traffic outside our house. The adults were used to it, but babies like me, we could smell it and see it. It's good that's a thing of the past.
You'd find it difficult to understand what things were like in the old times. It's difficult to imagine. An insidious murky yellow cloud of danger and confusion hung over the world, though most people didn't see it - they thought that was what life was about. Humanity was destroying itself very fast, and ignoring the fact too. We're surprisingly fortunate to be alive today. People thought they were free, living at the apex of human civilisation. Yet it was a sadly schizoid time, since people secretly feared for the future and they privately knew what was happening, yet they did anything they could to avoid facing the facts of the situation too. They were afraid change would mean loss, so they wore themselves out maintaining the status quo of the time. However, all that ended when I was a teenager. Not a moment too soon.
It all took a long time before the world really turned its problems around. As I grew up, things changed a lot, yet it was still frustrating. My parents' generation, bless them, had finally decided to allow major changes to start in the decade following the Millennium, though they had thought about it for thirty years. At first they had started trying to solve the world's problems by carrying out piecemeal legislation and regulation, and harnessing public concern, yet no one wanted to touch the really fundamental issues since they hoped the problem would go away if they just did *something*. They wanted change to happen as long as it wasn't detrimental to them or to their markets and supermarkets.
Many of them were very sincere, yet whenever they encountered bigger, wider obstacles, they backed off, out of fear that they would unleash a storm of changes larger than they wanted. There were quite a few radicals, and Glastonbury was one of their centres, but radicals were liked and supported only when they offered pleasant, marketable solutions. Until, that is, things got really serious. The main trouble was that, whenever anyone did something to improve one aspect of life, it simply created more problems further down the line or exposed a further issue because everything was so interrelated. There was talk of 'getting to the bottom line', yet the majority didn't want to jump over the abyss, to face the bottom-line issues.
However, we must be understanding. There was genuine concern and desire for change, yet people weren't sure how far to go or what might happen if they took the plunge. So they stood on the diving-board, ready to jump when everyone else did, yet rarely taking the plunge because few others would join them in doing so. The few individuals who took the step in advance of the majority often paid a big personal price in social exclusion or economic disadvantage - and the majority believed that, if they jumped, they would pay similarly. However, they saw only the price to be paid, not the benefits to be gained. There were murmurs that the radicals were traitors to civilisation - mercifully, these thoughts didn't get too far. The pressure of subsequent events sorted that out.
My parents and their friends were active in helping the changes happen. People used to come to Glastonbury seeking encouragement and inspiration. At one point a battle arose in the town because many of the more recent new arrivals wanted to stop others moving here. It had taken decades to overcome the conservatism of the more materialist inhabitants of the town, and now there were new conservatives to deal with! They said further incomers would change the place, stopping it from being a proper place of refuge - for them. This was understandable, though Glastonbury had a larger healing mission than that.
This was a last expression of late-20th Century individualism - people called it 'personal freedom' and 'rights'. Many people dreamed of community and cooperation, yet their 'personal growth' ethics were too strong for them to actually pull together as one collective. They were just not kitted out for what was to happen to their children and grandchildren in the Forties. But this is the way of history. This was the last generation of the 20th century. Yet their sincere inner struggles, driven by guilt and fear, were a necessary part of the changes too. We had to let go of self-interest, and its full consequences had to be seen.
The big decisions to start changing were made when I was still young. The technology-breakdowns at the turn of the Millennium were fixed within a few years, yet they had catalysed a bigger social process, a subsidence of faith in what, up to then, had been called 'progress'. They were sufficient to stir everyone up and undermine their habituated sense of false security. Money lost value, conveniences evaporated and escapism became more difficult. A remarkable shift went on - secretly, furtively, unconsciously, throughout society. Many people just stopped believing in the rationales which kept society going - except for the older die-hards, who were rapidly moving out of their depth. This had been building up since the 1960s - nearly 120 years ago now. After the Millennium people's inertia dematerialised sufficiently to set things in motion, to force them to face the future.
According to my father, this attitudinal shift brought big problems. The world had to keep running because it was frankly dangerous and impossible just to drop things which weren't helpful in the new situation. Things had to be kept going to some extent in order to stop society disintegrating dangerously and to give a chance for replacements and innovations to come through. Many were deeply lost - so they kept on with what they knew, even though they knew it was hollow, futile. Yet nothing was the same again - the world's viewpoint had already shifted, and it was really a matter of getting used to it. This was a very tricky time: the world stood on the edge of an abyss. With a simple, youthful view on life, I couldn't understand what all the fuss and confusion was about - why couldn't people just make the changes?. I had been somewhat sheltered by living in a relatively progressive environment in a place like Glastonbury, so I didn't fully understand.
There was a vast reallocation of funds and energies toward new research and development, local and international conflict resolution, ecological correction, social therapy, organisational change and other urgent activities, in every country. But it all went so slowly when compared with the scale of the problem. Somehow it needed to move faster. It was all about clearing up the mess from the past. There were lots of touchy backward-looking arguments about who was guilty, who was responsible and who had to pay. People generally supported the changes, they still fought to preserve their own corners. And the wealth of the late 20th Century had dwindled.
Many people were pretty frightened and tried not to let everything spill over into chaos. Each year there were crises - increasing weather extremes, crop failures, outbreaks of violence, things going wrong, problems escalating. Yet most people did their best to deal with life, while others grumbled and dragged their feet. No one really knew where all this was leading - many thought the world was going downhill. In a sense, it was: the good times were over. Yet new times were starting, good in a different way. Things were looking up - especially for the younger folk and those who had been victims of the circumstances and values of the previous century. There were inspiring moments and bold decisions. It took some hard swallowing. There were deep cuts in pollution emissions, causing all sorts of new engineering works and social changes in themselves.
There was the reform of the United Nations and downgrading of nations to cantons - which led to the successful avoidance of the Asian wars, to the enormous rescue operations in Bangladesh, Germany, California and the Philippines, and the pacification of the American civil war.
I was sixteen in 2012, when the Initiation came. People called it a crisis at first, but their perspective gradually changed. The global climate had gone so awry by then that everyone everywhere was suffering - though in some areas destitution and emigration had set in. Food shortages and disruptions were serious, especially in countries which previously had been rich, where people were unused to dealing with hardship. Millions were on the move, worldwide, seeking refuge and a future. Folks were more tolerant and cooperative than twenty years earlier, though social stress was high and many countries were in chaos. And then it happened.
It looked like the end of the world. Everyone, everywhere, felt the Rumble. It was a sedate day-long quake, worldwide. It wasn't catastrophic - it rose to five on the Richter scale in some places. But it went on for a whole day without intermission. And then there was a terrible brooding silence which followed. Everything stopped. The world's population was transfixed for weeks, walking around in a daze. This sort of mass altered state, like a vast hypnosis, had happened only a few times - I think the first was in 1997, when I was just a toddler. Something to do with the death of a princess, of all things. The second instance had been in the first weeks of 2000, and others had followed. But these entrancements had never been as great as the one which happened in 2012: normality just didn't return as before.
What started it was the news of the death of Jung Peng. This stirred everyone up, worldwide. She had been a symbol of hope for the world. Jung Peng had brought sanity back to a chaotic China in two years flat. Several renegade old-timer Chinese generals had threatened to annihilate China and poison much of the world, using old nuclear weapons, if the old order was not restored. They were contained after a showdown, and Jung Peng took control and won back everyone's hearts. She seemed such a ray of light in a dark time! The world was amazed. So when she had been given up for lost in the Wuhan earthquake, while touring China with the Panchen Lama, the slender hope of the world had collapsed.
As it happened, she didn't die: whether the Panchen Lama had revived her, as many believed, or whether something else had happened, she was alive and well again within twelve days. Her 'rebirth' seemed a miracle of enormous symbolic proportions. When she returned, we all became aware of our vulnerability to fluctuations in the human spirit.
This charged incident mobilised many dedicated people worldwide, and tremendous feats of generosity and leadership were seen. The world was on tenterhooks, teetering on a brink. Anything might happen, and the world was expecting the worst. With hindsight, it was the prayers that clinched it. There had been worldwide meditation and prayer link-ups during the previous twenty years, though few believed they were anything but cranky, vain activities of no practical effect. But this was the moment it really worked. When Charles Windsor, England's newly-retired ex-king, gave his 'Hour of Need' speech at the new United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, the whole world was watching. When he finished his rather moving speech and asked the world to pray with him, the world indeed prayed. Somehow, this turned a key.
That was the moment when the Rumble happened, in that quietness of prayer. They reckon 20% of the world's population was praying - over one and a half billion people, of all persuasions. The first Rumble lasted, well, perhaps a few minutes - though it was like an eternity. Then it decreased. Then more came, and more, for a whole day. It seemed like the end of everything: a certain acceptance, even relief, dawned. The End was here. Then everything went very still - even the biggest cities were quiet. People seemed dazed, overcome - this was visible from the worldwide television coverage.
The silence then gave way to a murmuring, then an outbreak of many different reactions. Some started crying and breaking down, and others started revelling. Some stood transfixed, and others discussed and took stock of the situation. Those who could still function - mainly the people who had brought on personal changes before that time - helped those who couldn't. In some areas there were deep social crises and a few outbreaks of mass hysteria. Even the BBC went out of action for ten days. All this went on for weeks.
In the ensuing months big changes emerged. People at the top of society stood down or were removed - they just didn't know what to do. The new Globo currency was founded on the back of the Euro, and new trading standards were rapidly instituted by the reform-economists who previously had been obliged to keep quiet. This happened with surprising international agreement - it was imperative to keep the world economy working in some manner or form. Russians suddenly became international social and economic consultants, advising countries on establishing barter exchanges and managing public distribution.
Crowds gathered everywhere to huddle together, to discuss things, to celebrate or work together on urgent tasks. The pulling together of workforces represented the greatest breakthrough - it was like a military mobilisation of the past, except without any high commands or shooting. The remaining armies courageously took on the most dangerous missions - controlling nuclear installations (even if closed) and sources of toxicity and danger.
It felt as if the past had simply ended. Basic services kept more or less running through the dedication of a few. Everything had become very different. What we now call the 'Transition Time' was starting. In all departments of life, initiatives were suddenly being taken by anyone with any initiative, and things started moving very fast. When there was a spark of leadership or cooperation, many people joined in, as if they had at last found a purpose in life.
I went over to China with my parents - we had volunteered for the relief efforts there. Soon I met Jung Peng, a family acquaintance who had attended school near Glastonbury, whom I had never met. Our first reaction to each other was: “So you *are* alive!”. We saw each other as siblings of the soul. I was younger than she, yet we were long-lost twins. I left my parents and went with her. My parents went to work in Sichuan and Tibet. She and I worked together for five years, travelling through China. She coordinated government on the trot, by Internet and bush telegraph. It was called the Second Long March.
THE TRANSITION TIMES
The Transition Times were very mixed. Suddenly, humanity was glad to be alive. We had fallen in love with the human race and with life, as a direct result of the Rumble and the Initiation. The world, by then well-primed for change, had suddenly made its choice! Or at least, most people had chosen, and many of the rest either went along with it or were outnumbered - and nothing was the same afterwards. This was a matter of relief.
However, the Transition Times were also very insecure. Most nations and areas survived without calamity, though some suffered greatly. We occasionally regenerated a semblance of normality and regularity, though there were tough crises to face. People's attitudes had changed - feelings of acceptance, reconciliation, sharing, changed priorities and urgency amidst extreme difficulty seemed to be prevalent. The world's problems continued, yet our understanding and responses had changed.
Generally, people pulled together. In this, we were all rather like children: there was a steep public learning-process to go through. At times there was a lot of squabbling, with clashes of ideas and cultural values, so zealous were people to find the Big Solution and the Final Answer. Some wanted everyone to do what they thought was right and, as a result, we approached a new world war in 2018. In the two months of anguish before the matter was resolved, it was as if the world public was checking whether cooperation or conflict was the best way forward. In the end, there was simply insufficient emotion, insufficient distrust, to muster a war and pay its price. The Euro-Americans and the Asian bloc just didn't hate and fear each other enough to make a war. The situation disappeared quite quickly, leading to new cooperation treaties mediated by Nigeria and Kenya.
There were times of depression too - a sense of hopelessness at the scale of issues being faced, in every department of life, everywhere. Folk had suddenly become hypersensitive, and they didn't really know what to do with themselves. Some had become quite useless, as if drugged or disoriented with shock or woe. It became known as 'deep-water syndrome'. Others were fired up with enthusiasm, and yet others used up valuable time and energy pursuing hair-brained schemes of various descriptions. There were many frictions: as new agendas dawned and clarified, new questions and debates emerged. Many people drew back out of fear of what might develop - it was all larger than they could encompass.
Yet the past was obsolete, gone. It was as if a nightmare had ended, and we were faced with the beginning of a long, hard day's work. There were many arguments over power, responsibility and legitimacy, over social and national rights, over who should change most or first, who should pay, and there was friction in some parts over space, water, food stocks, boundaries. No one wanted to fight, yet no one wanted to yield. No one felt safe or secure. No one knew where all this was really leading.
We were being forced to innovate at every step. Enormous mistakes were made too - such as the ionosphere experiments of 2020 and the Abolitions of 2021. The Abolitions had been an attempt to eliminate certain evils in one fell swoop, though they soon had to be revoked because they were too draconian - they were prompting evasion, crime and a moral backsliding, a forgetting of the bigger picture. So it was deemed better that people and nations should take their own responsibility, even though this meant a slowing of the changes in some areas.
There were also lots of old cover-ups from the past which few wanted exposed because of the discomfort and hectoring that exposure brought. The truth about 20th Century cover-ups concerning the falsehood of democracy, the world drugs trade, the extent of world toxicity, the connections of business with organised crime, the covert government operations and secrets concerning official contacts with the Interworlders [ETs] of the previous 60 years - they all came out. Truth and reality were uncomfortable to digest - many people didn't want to face how bad humans had been toward one another in the past, especially while the people involved were still alive.
Things were pretty ragged in some places, and deaths occasionally grew to millions. In the last century, famines had been brought about by political and military causes, but now they were brought about by the longer-term consequences of the past more than by current errors. There were the suiciders too: in the past terrorists had bombed others to make a political point, but now they bombed to simply make things badder for eveyone, trying to take as many people with them as possible. Some people just couldn't believe things would get better. They had some justification.
THE GLOBAL REVOLUTION
The atmosphere had nevertheless changed. We were beginning to work together for a better future - in this, most people were agreed. There was a lot of talking going on, in parliaments, on the streets, on the Internet. New laws, a new consensus, new ways of doing things, new customs.... everything was gradually getting simplified as life was brought back to more real proportions. Social life became more meaningful: many barriers came down, and local communities, left to themselves thanks to the breakdown and cutting back of governmental systems and the rise of the new spirit of public cooperation, were being obliged to act as communities. There was no ideology, no precedent, no Big Idea to follow, and many issues were at stake. We simply had to stop the world crisis before it advanced too far. At the time we hoped it would be over in a decade. We didn't expect it to last thirty years.
In the mid-to-late Twenties things started improving. We were beginning to earn payoffs from the solutions which had been rapidly surfacing over the previous decade. President Chelsea Clinton of East Coast America had grandiosely called it the Global Revolution. It had been set in motion by the Kinshasa Agreements, which had at last ended the sovereignty of nations and formalised the world consensus systems we now take for granted. In the fifteen years following the Initiation the whole world had been geared to reform, innovation and change, and it went on at an almost frightening pace. Some issues soaked up a lot of time and resources and brought a lot of heartache, especially when local and cultural identities were felt to be at stake. In other cases, miracles happened, or good results were achieved through sheer hard work. Sometimes this involved hundreds of thousands of people working together. Yet all this just had to be done. The Global Revolution was everything, not just a 20th Century public relations exercise.
Planting new forests was laborious and time-consuming, yet at least we knew how to do it. Dealing with industrial toxins and nuclear materials was more difficult, and some of the biggest issues were anxiously kept on hold for want of workable solutions or something better to do. There were population problems too: fertile men were getting fewer in number, and women were protesting against artifical conception - even though these measures had largely been introduced by the women politicians. In the former 'developed world', women's vested interests were insisting on women's right to maintain political control. This led to an atmosphere of victimisation of men and rivalry between women - that is, until the Asian countries started pressurising them over human rights violation. The numbers of children being born fell rapidly - statistically a good thing, yet devastating whole regions and making many societies seem uncannily empty, abandoned. We had become accustomed to high-density populations, and the thinning out had an eerie, deadening effect.
Then there were the Truth Trials. Many tensions emerged as the trials proceeded, as the full reality dawned. Uncomfortable revelations emerged, uncovering not only the guilt of perpetrators, but also the extent of public complicity and foolishness in allowing crimes against humanity to take place. Complicity was deemed an almost equal crime to perpetration, and there was a lot of infectious guilt and cross-accusation. Crimes against humanty, thirty years earlier, had been limited to genocidal and military issues, but now it was former politicians, company executives and other previous high-ups - mostly men - who were under the spotlight. No one really knew what to do with these perpetrators - the profiteers, polluters and exploiters, the 'hard men', the arms traders and media moguls, now grown old - since they would not have succeeded without public complicity.
Many of 'the accused' were sincerely repentent, having re-dedicated their lives to good works - yet public frustration and vengeance sometimes overrode truth and justice. Some of the 'accused' felt lost, disoriented in this new world, and they felt unfairly attacked. They pleaded that the women in their lives had encouraged and supported them, only to turn on them later. Then, by 2026 women began fighting against each other in some areas, and this brought a revival of atrocities reminding us of the past. Some perpetrators were still dangerous too, even if only with divisive ideas or rusty armaments. People were very unsure of themselves. However, this turned from insecurity and anxiety to a new atmosphere of reconciliation in the late Twenties. People became aware that these ill-feelings were charging their price too.
In many areas people excelled themselves: human potential was opening out, unlocking possibilities never thought of before. Some places had it better than others. At last we were in the swing of things. The world's economy was functioning again, and innovations and solutions were being announced thick and fast. Free-energy technologies were at last becoming widespread, and the new agricultural systems were beginning to work. After the flight from the cities, which had caused a massive crisis in some parts, lots of energy had gone into the land, and it was paying off. The Great Re-education, set in motion worldwide by Jung Peng and the so-called 'Hutu saint' who was now Secretary-General of the UN, was working through too. In the England canton, health and welfare spending had been cut by 75% in two decades, yet public health and welfare had improved immensely. The public had taken life more in its own hands.
Yet humanity was deeply frayed. There was peace and cooperation, yet the memories of the former days were not gone. Many people understandably hung on to their former social identities, reconstructing images of the past to live by. In a sense things had been easier in the 20th Century, with its wars, outrages and insensitivities, because deep feelings had largely been buried by fear of stepping out of line. However, after the Initiation, the incremental lifting of the world atmosphere had allowed deeper, accumulated feelings to come up. There was a new kind of moral restraint, yet it tended to be a regulated self-censorship rather than a healing of old shadows and woes. The world was full of touchy issues, with occasional brawls breaking out. Some brawls were tragic, almost pointless, random expressions of pent-up sensitivities. Yet no one wished to be seen to be negative or obstructing progress, so these social irritations often lost their impetus before they escalated too far.
The melting away of borders, of regulation, of tradition, in favour of self-responsibility, had happened as a matter of unspoken consensus and necessity, worldwide. However, this had been a shock: people were now struggling to establish a new identity, to develop new norms and safe territories, aligning with this or that grouping, sometimes erratically. Everything was shifting so much! There was so much work to do too, everywhere! There was so much sincerity, yet so much pain and confusion too! It was personal, social and cultural. Some acted out old oppression patterns - albeit softly - and some had difficulty living without oppression - it was somehow more comfortable to be victims. This might be difficult to understand. You young'uns, born in the Fifties and Sixties after The Breakthrough, probably look back on the past with amazement.
In the Transition Times, the world had changed, and with it the psychology of all people. Yet we were not healed of the past, only relieved of much of it. The slate hadn't been wiped clean. The cancers were still there, and people still lived in cubic buildings. We were giving birth to a future and dissembling a past, yet we were stuck in between, looking both ways. We still didn't know whether we would survive or not. We still hadn't cracked many problems - climate irregularities, the algal blooms, the rebuilding of cities, the re-stocking of species, the epidemics, the shadows of distrust and many of the toxins. Some things were getting worse.
The Global Revolution, starting in the late Twenties, had tried to accelerate things, yet everything took time. We had embraced so much that was new - mostly in response to events and force of circumstance. The world was discovering new ways of tackling problems by shifting our thinking, our consciousness. This worked. A new rationality had dawned, with new organic rules once judged 'paranormal' or 'cranky'. This had dawned from below, by general consensus. It took some mighty crises to bring us to this - and in crisis-management the big decisions were made.
MEANWHILE, BACK HOME...
By the mid-Thirties I had finished my work with the World Refugee Organisation, and I had returned to the England canton. I intended to spend some years back home in Glastonbury, living a quieter life. So I hoped! This was not to be.
Mind you, Glastonbury had never really been quiet! Even as a small town in my early days it had been pretty hectic. After old Sir Bruce and Dame Kathy had finally set the Avalonia city plan in motion in 2015, the population grew immensely. The new city was to be a precursor for those being built today. Greenery, water, bubble-buildings, air and water harbours, tree-houses and pod-systems everywhere. In the early days one Glastonbury Sanctuary had been planned, yet now there were five of them being built!
Once the Geomanse dome was erected over Park Wood in 2022, the new city was built around it, geometrically. The Tor and the Geomanse ennobled each other - the same height, they were like the old and the new juxtaposed. Some of the ecological fundamentalists grumbled as usual, but they were pacified when they discovered that, for everything to be destroyed or changed, much more was to be restored or corrected. The Moors Islands of the 2030s were a brilliant idea too: the floods of 2015 had emptied the Somerset Levels of people, but now new canals, lakes and islands were being created in a wonderful literal and vast landscape-garden. The Glastonbury, Somerton and Wells old towns were incorporated into the plan to draw on the heritage of the area and give the city continuity with its noble past. Then the twinning ceremonies with the new Altai city in Siberia and with New Tiahuanacu City in Peru were remarkable too.
In 2051, when Avalonia was chosen as one of the seven global Interworld Centres, the place rose at last to today's dimensions - a meeting place for Earth-humans and off-Earth beings too. In the twenty years since then, so much has changed, the place is hardly recognisable! The Babcary precinct was made up of fields and hedgerows when I was young - and now, the Megadome Village for the American refugees and the Cadbury Avenue give a sense that the sacrifice was worth it. Especially when balanced against the greening of many of the old cities.
Next year, when the first Twenty-Four Civilisations mission lands at Avalonia, it feels as if a cycle of history will at last be over. Earth will finally be certified as safe and on track. I hear they're visiting Earth only for three months since, even after the changes, it's still difficult for many Interworlders to stay here very long, but we're honoured that they'll land in Avalonia. It was always a major pilgrimage place, even before Jesus' last visit over two millennia ago.
When I was a kid, the debates over the Sanctuary being built next to the old Abbey went on for years, but, with Jesus' return now being imminent, I'm really glad it was finally built there - it was the only place for it. The Return will see the biggest influx of pilgrims this place has ever seen! In the past people used to pray that Jesus would come save them - I think most are now glad that didn't happen. We were the Christs, even though we realised it only ten years ago! However, it's great that the Man Himself is coming to celebrate it.
I'm jumping ahead. Just before you lot were born, back in the Forties, life was getting bad. The ultra-violet was at its worst, and many things were proving that they weren't working. This was reminiscent of pre-Initiation times: people were trying hard, yet they were losing heart. In the Twenties we had had hope, but now that hope was draining away - our noble efforts seemed to be coming to nought.
Yet another Transition Times generation was growing up with no end in sight. Population was shrinking: this left a creeping sadness, a kind of social vacuum. Many older settlements were abandoned, and whole blood-families were becoming rare. Many were dying young too from the diseases. We knew it was necessary. But it was hard. At times we wondered whether the old times were returning.
In retrospect, I think humanity was painfully maturing. We were being forced to accept and understand more than we wanted to, whether we liked it or not. Just before the comet came in 2042, fear grew and mass suicides and madness broke out - and when it mysteriously passed us by, hopes for the future didn't really revive. Nearly 10% of the population worldwide had taken their lives or lost them in the confusions or diseases, and some areas were virtually emptied. It was as if all the spiritual breakthroughs of this century were actually making things worse - we were so much more sensitive, so much more aware of what was amiss. We laboured under a shadow overhanging the world, even though that shadow was smaller than it had been before in the last century.
The past was getting forcibly wrung out of us. It felt as if nothing much more could go wrong. I think a lot of people secretly wished to be wiped out - they sought a final solution, an end of 'tribulation', of the grinding, growing tragedy. Humanity might soon die out, quickly or slowly, by any number of causes, and we had to face it. There was a deep fatalism. Optimists and humanitarians felt marginalised, and the new sense of reason which had developed in the Twenties gave way as the cults, doomsters and saviours of the Forties took hold.
Many wanted or expected the Interworlders to get involved. Dialogue with them had increased since the 2032 Interworld Congress, but the Interworlders seemed to play a circumspect game. Some people, especially in the Americas, had opposed the idea of receiving interworld aid, saying it would wreck human culture - they were probably right, though not many listened. So many had lost faith in our own capacity to survive, and they wanted aid. The Interworlders had brought us hope, though they never indicated whether they reckoned we would make it or not.
I don't think the Interworlders themselves knew. They emphasised that they had no precedents to judge by. They made no promises, no major transfers of knowledge or technology, assisting only in small matters. Many had hoped the Interworlders would bring a new age - yet where was it? Meanwhile, the Interworlders told us that this was indeed a new age, and that we needed to get on with it. This seemed somehow out of place when compared with many people's experience. The signs had been initially good, yet in the Forties the world was worried, deflated, doomed.
There was a burst of hope in 2042. In the German canton they had found a way of psychically altering the atomic structure of nuclear waste, rendering it harmless and useful in ocean-filtration processes. This brought a symbolic glimmer of hope. However, this hope was apocalyptic-flavoured, semi-hysterical. As in the 20th Century, everyone was waiting for everyone else to start something. By 2045 it seemed humanity had reached a new low, sliding backwards. The world had certainly become a better place, yet it was also losing the biggest battle.
Then, in 2047, it happened. Temperatures plummeted. The floods, freeze-ups and storms were enormous. Crops failed in most places - as if the very genetic power of Nature was giving out. Multiple disasters happened. We were now somewhat accustomed to this, yet it was horrendous. This must be the end. The world was becoming immobilised.
I was in Senegal canton at the time, under frazzling heat, with the World Food Program. There wasn't any food to grow or to import, so it was all rather pointless! Yet the social atmosphere there was fantastic, despite the destitution. People improvised in ways which put our organisation to shame. This is indeed Africa's century - without the courage and leadership of Africans, humanity would probably have died out by 2040.
I can remember the moment. Tuesday 5th March, it was. I was riding on a magnetodisk to a meeting. You could cut the air with a knife - the atmosphere was intense even in the desert. I just had to keep going. On the way I had picked up two bony people who had simply laid down beside the road and given up. When I stopped for a third person, she just looked into my eyes and whispered “Allah is finally come” and gave out. There I was, on my knees, cradling this dead woman's head. I broke down in tears. Was there any point any more? Were we just running around trying to escape futility? “Oh God...”, I said to the empty desert, “Take me now. I've had enough”. I just sat there, vacant.
At that very moment there was a kind of crackling in the air. Then it was as if a wind suddenly blew up for a few seconds. Then it reversed and blew in the opposite direction for a few more seconds, and it went still again. Very strange. One of my passengers sat up bolt upright, all agog. I felt suddenly... well... kind of invigorated. Suddenly glad, strangely relieved. Suddenly a turgid weight was lifted. It was inexplicable. The other passenger got up, smiling broadly, saying “Am I alive? Is this...? Are we... home?”.
I couldn't answer. There we were, in the desert, all smiling at one another for no reason! It just seemed as if everything was different. Nothing had visibly changed, except our mood. No, something had changed: I looked at the stony ground, then up at the sky, and it looked, well... it's difficult to describe, because we're so used to it now. It looked as if everything was sharper, as if visual and textural perspective and dimension had been switched up. And some stones were, well, twinkling. And the sky was the deepest of blue - it had lost its strange silvery haze. I could even see inside the very skin of my companions. I looked down at my hands and every single vein, contour and hair stood out. Everything was seemingly zizzling, even rippling slightly. The air was zingly fresh, as if we were sitting by a waterfall.
We sat talking a long time. We shared our life-stories. There seemed to be no point going anywhere, because here was where everything was. We cried and laughed, full of joy. Even the dead body next to us seemed joyous. We were like children. After what must have been hours we realised we were very thirsty and hungry. At that very moment we saw another magneto scudding toward us. You could hear music from it, from a long distance. It was one of my colleagues. He was beaming broadly. It was he who told us what had happened. The Breakthrough had just happened.
So that's where I was at the moment of the Breakthrough! I was in the desert in Senegal! The woman who had died in my arms was one of millions who passed away, at seemingly the same moment. I wonder where they've all gone?
No one exactly knows what caused the Breakthrough. Many think the Interworlders finally intervened, though the Interworlders just say that time will reveal all. Some think it was the World Concert: certainly over a billion people participated, and the climax coincided with the change. Others claim it was the Novo-Tomsk experiments - the planetary radionic pulsing done from Ukraine. Some just think the time was right, humanity was right for it, and everything else was right. It was indeed an unexpected miracle. The Interworlders say we deserved it - we had gone through enough hardship to purge out the past. Certainly they came in droves after the Breakthrough.
It seemed that they held us in high esteem. They kept repeating that no world had ever sunk so low and revived against such great odds. Now that we all know our thoughts have energy, it all makes sense, but before the Breakthrough, though we theoretically knew this, few completely believed it. Before I was born they'd got excited over some guy bending spoons: No one realised this was a sign of times to come.
All those clanky old machines of the past! And all the isolation we all suffered, locked into our own selves like prisoners! We were hungry even when surrounded in plenty. And now it was all over. The new times had indeed now started.
My belief is that it indeed was us who brought this change. I think the collective unconscious had built up enough steam, perhaps from deep, cringing despair, for breakthrough. It was tough at the time, but we had created that hardship. We actually wanted it. We needed it. We couldn't stop our decline consciously - we didn't really have the guts. So we stopped it unconsciously.
Our souls had cried out for mercy and the screws were tightened down an extra turn to squeeze the mercy out of us. We cried out again and it got worse. We gave up. It wasn't even worth fearing doom any more. We stopped waiting, wanting, trying. I think this finally made us ready to receive the gift we needed to give ourselves - the capacity to make our vision reality. That's my opinion - though perhaps all our opinions are correct. Who actually knows?
I've had a good life. My dad swore, when he was young, that he would live to see the new world being born. All he saw was the old world dying and struggling for new life. Yet we children exist to fulfil their parents' unfulfilled wishes. So I guess I've done it for him - it's just that the change took longer than my father would have dreamed. You're doing it too: you're now living in what, to people of the past, would be paradise. You're fulfilling the dreams and prayers of your foreparents. So what now are your dreams?
I've seen it - I've seen the change my father and his peers dreamt of! It all happened in my lifetime! Looking back, the greatest moment for me was in China, when Jung Peng gave Tibet its independence from Chinese rule, and the Dalai Lama, in his words, gave his people's sovereignty to the world. My father always used to say that Tibet would be freed when the world was freed, and he was only eleven years inaccurate!
In the twentieth century, one politician once said “You've never had it so good”. It would be unfair to say this to you now. You haven't come here for a hard time. All that is now over. You carry the experience of the Earthers and the abilities of the Interworlders in your genes. Yet the funny thing is this: even though the world is now a happy place, there was something special about the former days when things were so bad.
It's as if hardship hones the soul. Or at least, that was its purpose back then. It's funny how, with so many Interworlders moving here, they're saying this is such a wonderful world. Indeed it is. But I don't think we really realised how lucky we've been to go through this. Many Interworlders say they've missed one of the greatest experiences available in the whole universe. I wouldn't choose it again.... but I'm now glad I was here while it happened!
Would you do me a favour? Would you take me to the Old Town? I want to go back to the Chalice Well. Before I leave my body, I want to taste its waters again. It's funny, the strange, cantankerous last desires which come up when the curtain's falling. You have no need for folks like me any more.
It's all different now, and the days are longer than when I was young. I've told my story now. I think today's a good day to join the afterlifers. So would you take me to the Well? I think that's the last thing I'll do with my life. Born at home, I want to die at home - in order to go home to my real home. My task is done.
© Copyright Palden Jenkins 1998.
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