Every culture has a Story of the People to give meaning to the world. Part conscious and part unconscious, it consists of a matrix of agreements, narratives, and symbols that tell us why we are here, where we are headed, what is important, and even what is real. I think we are entering a new phase in the dissolution of our Story of the People, and therefore, with some lag time, of the edifice of civilization built on top of it.
Sometimes I feel intense nostalgia for the cultural mythology of my youth, a world in which there was nothing wrong with soda pop, in which the Superbowl was important, in which the world’s greatest democracy was bringing democracy to the world, in which science was going to make life better and better. Life made sense. If you worked hard you could get good grades, get into a good college, go to grad school or follow some other professional path, and you would be happy. With a few unfortunate exceptions, you would be successful if you obeyed the rules of our society: if you followed the latest medical advice, kept informed by reading the New York Times, and stayed away from Bad Things like drugs. Sure there were problems, but the scientists and experts were working hard to fix them. Soon a new medical advance, a new law, a new educational technique, would propel the onward improvement of life. My childhood perceptions were part of this Story of the People, in which humanity was destined to create a perfect world through science, reason, and technology, to conquer nature, transcend our animal origins, and engineer a rational society.
From my vantage point, the basic premises of this story seemed unquestionable. After all, it seemed to be working in my world. Looking back, I realize that this was a bubble world built atop massive human suffering and environmental degradation, but at the time one could live within that bubble without need of much self-deception. The story that surrounded us was robust. It easily kept anomalous data points on the margins.
Since my childhood in the 1970s, that story has eroded at an accelerating rate. More and more people in the West no longer believe that civilization is fundamentally on the right track. Even those who don’t yet question its basic premises in any explicit way seem to have grown weary of it. A layer of cynicism, a hipster self-awareness has muted our earnestness. What was once so real, say a plank in a party platform, today is seen through several levels of “meta” filters to parse it in terms of image and message. We are like children who have grown out of a story that once enthralled us, aware now that it is only a story.
At the same time, a series of new data points has disrupted the story from the outside. The harnessing of fossil fuels, the miracle of chemicals to transform agriculture, the methods of social engineering and political science to create a more rational and just society – each has fallen far short of its promise, and brought unanticipated consequences that threaten civilization. We just cannot believe anymore that the scientists have everything well in hand. Nor can we believe that the onward march of reason will bring on social utopia.
Today we cannot ignore the intensifying degradation of the biosphere, the malaise of the economic system, the decline in health, or the persistence and indeed growth of global poverty and inequality. We once thought economists would fix poverty, political scientists would fix social injustice, chemists and biologists would fix environmental problems, the power of reason would prevail and we would adopt sane policies. I remember looking at maps of rain forest decline in National Geographic in the early 1980s and feeling both alarm and relief – relief because at least the scientists and everyone who reads National Geographic is aware of the problem now, so something surely will be done.
Nothing was done. Rainforest decline accelerated, along with nearly every other environmental threat that we knew about in 1980. Our Story of the People trundled forward under the momentum of centuries, but with each passing decade the hollowing-out of its core, that started perhaps with the industrial-scale slaughter of World War One, extended further. When I was a child, our system of ideology and mass media still protected that story, but in the last thirty years the incursions of reality have punctured its protective shell and have ruptured its essential infrastructure. We no longer believe our storytellers, our elites. We don’t believe the politicians, we don’t believe the doctors, we don’t believe the professors, we don’t believe the bankers, we don’t believe the technologists. All of them imply that everything is under control, and we know that it is not. We have lost the vision of the future we once had; most people have no vision of the future at all. This is new for our society. Fifty or a hundred years ago, most people agreed on the general outlines of the future. We thought we knew where society was going. Even the Marxists and the capitalists agreed on its basic outlines: a paradise of mechanized leisure and scientifically engineered social harmony, with spirituality either abolished entirely or relegated to a materially inconsequential corner of life that happened mostly on Sundays. Of course there were dissenters from this vision, but this was the general consensus.
When a story nears its end it goes through death throes, an exaggerated semblance of life. So today we see domination, conquest, violence, and separation take on absurd extremes that hold a mirror up to what was once hidden and diffuse. The year 2012 ended with just such a potent story-disrupting event: the Sandy Hook massacre. Even realizing that far more, equally innocent, children have been killed in the last few years by, say, U.S. drone strikes, it really got under my skin. No one was immune. I think that is because its utter senselessness penetrated every defense mechanism we have to maintain the fiction that the world is basically OK. Unlike 9/11 or Oklahoma City, and certainly unlike the horrors that go on around the world, there was no convenient narrative to divert the raw pain of what happened. We cannot help but map those murdered innocents onto the young faces we know, and the anguish of their parents onto ourselves. At the base of our Story of the People is separation, of humanity from nature, of me from you, of each from all, and this event united everyone, of whatever culture, nationality, or political persuasion. For a moment, we all felt the exact same thing. For at least a moment, I am sure, most people were in touch with the simplicity of what is important; I am sure many people had that fleeting feeling, “It doesn’t have to be that difficult, if only we could remember what is so obvious now, that love is all there is.” We humans have made such a mess of things, forgetting love. It is the same realization we have when a loved one is going through the dying process, and we think, “Ah, how precious this person is – why couldn’t I see that? Why couldn’t I appreciate all those moments we had together? All the arguments and grudges seem so tiny now.”
Following that moment, of course, people hurried to make sense of the event, subsuming it within a narrative about gun control, mental health, or the security of school buildings. Maybe I am imagining things, but I don’t think anyone really believes deep down that these responses touch the heart of the matter. Gun culture, we know, is a symptom of something deeper, and the violence that finds expression through guns would, even in their absence, come out in some other way. Mental illness too is a problem so vast that it is essentially unsolvable in our current system; it too comes from a deeper source. As for school security, a Chinese saying describes all the measures proposed: they stop the gentleman but not the villain.
No one would say that Sandy Hook was more horrible than the Holocaust, the Stalinist purges, or the imperialistic wars of the 20th century and 21st, but it was less comprehensible. Try as we might, we cannot fit it into our Story of the World. It is the anomalous data point that unravels the entire narrative – the world no longer makes sense. We struggle to explain what it means, but no explanation suffices. We may go on pretending that normal is still normal, but this is one of a series of “end time” events that is dismantling our culture’s mythology.
The evident futility of the responses that we are capable of imagining also points to this deep ideological breakdown. The responses are all about more control. Yet control, as we may or may not realize, is a key thread of the old story of humanity rising above nature, imposing technology and reason on the wild world and the uncivilized human. All around us, we see our efforts at control backfiring: wars to fight terrorism breed terrorism, herbicides breed superweeds, antibiotics breed superbugs, psychiatric medications lead to explosive outbursts of violence.
Looking back on the community schools a couple generations past, where children and parents could walk in and out of any door, can we say that the inexorable trend toward fortress schools in a fortress state is something anyone would have chosen? The world was supposed to be getting better. We were supposed to be becoming wealthier, more enlightened. Society was supposed to be advancing. Here I am in America, the most “advanced” nation on Earth, yet even as our financial wealth has doubled and doubled again in fifty years, we have lost wealth of a more basic form; for example, the social capital of feeling safe, feeling at home where we live. Is more security the best we can aspire to? What about a society where safety does not equal security? What about a world where no human being wields an assault rifle? What about a world where we mostly know the faces and stories of the people around us? What about a world where we know that our daily activities contribute to the healing of the biosphere and the well-being of other people? We need a Story of the People that includes all of those things – and that doesn’t feel like a fantasy.
Various visionary thinkers have offered versions of such a story, but none of them has yet become a true Story of the People, a widely accepted set of agreements and narratives that gives meaning to the world and coordinates human activity towards its fulfillment. We are not quite ready for such a story yet, because the old one, though in tatters, still has large swaths of its fabric intact. And even when these unravel, we still must traverse the space between stories, a kind of nakedness. In the turbulent times ahead our familiar ways of acting, thinking, and being will no longer make sense. We won’t know what is happening, what it all means, and, sometimes, even what is real. Some people have entered that time already.
I wish I could tell you that I am ready for a new Story of the People, but even though I am among its many weavers, I cannot yet fully inhabit the new vestments. In other words, describing the world that could be, something inside me doubts, rejects, and underneath the doubt is a hurting thing. The breakdown of the old story is kind of a healing process, that uncovers the old wounds hidden under its fabric and exposes them to the healing light of awareness. I am sure many people reading this have gone through such a time, when the cloaking illusions fell away: all the old justifications, rationalizations, all the old stories. Events like Sandy Hook help to initiate the very same process on a collective level. So also the superstorms, the economic crisis, political meltdowns… in one way or another, the obsolescence of our old mythos is laid bare.
We do not have a new story yet. Each of us is aware of some of its threads, for example in most of the things we call alternative, holistic, or ecological today. Here and there we see patterns, designs, emerging parts of the fabric. But the new mythos has not yet emerged. We will abide for a time in the space between stories. Those of you who have been through it on a personal level know that it is a very precious – some might say sacred – time. Then we are in touch with the real. Each disaster lays bare the real underneath our stories. The terror of a child, the grief of a mother, the honesty of not knowing why. In such moments we discover our humanity. We come to each other’s aid, human to human. We take care of each other. That’s what keeps happening every time there is a calamity, before the beliefs, the ideologies, the politics take over again. Events like Sandy Hook, for at least a moment, cut through all that down to the basic human being. In such times, we learn who we really are.
How can we prepare? We cannot prepare. But we are being prepared.
Archangel Dave says
Don Salmon says
(warning – “shameless promotion” up ahead). May I offer a “new story” that I believe has the power to transform society? it is in a book by Jan (my wife) and myself: Yoga Psychology and the Transformation of Consciousness: Seeing Through the Eyes of Infinity. It is basically a story of evolution based on Sri Aurobindo’s integral psychology. Some excerpts can be found at http://www.integralworld.net – go to “reading room”, search for “Salmon”, and look for “Ken Wilber’s Evolutionary View Gets a Trim With Ockham’s Razor”.
But before that, I believe that the single greatest stumbling block to the emergence of a new story is the belief in materialism – not just “selfish” consumerism, but far more fundamental, the belief that non living, nonintelligent, self-existent matter (mass energy, or whatever you want to call it) is the foundation of the universe. You appear to have doubts which I suspect stem from implicit belief in self-existent matter (what Owen Barfield called “the residue of unresolved positivism). To work through that, may I suggest my “Shaving Science With Ockham’s Razor” also at integralworld.net
The basic principle is incredibly simple (hot my personal idea – it was suggested to me by Mark Woodhouse, formerly a professor of philosophy at the University of Georgia).
1. Establish clearly, in as detailed a manner as possible, that there is not one single fact, one single piece of data presented in the last 4 centuries of scientific research that requires a materialistic explanation. Along with this, make clear (as has cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman) that materialism, dualism and idealism can all be used as explanatory principles for scientific research. Following from this, it becomes clear that due to the relative nature of the knowledge that science investigates, scientific research cannot establlish a metaphysical basis for the knowledge it presents.
2. Having come to an agreement that science is metaphysically neutral, take any fact, and see what makes more sense – to see it in a materialist context or a nondualistic (spiritual, non materialistic, whatever you wish to call it). I am willing to wager that inevitably, whatever the issue (the origin of the big bang, the emergence of “laws of nature”, the emergence of life and consciousness, the increasing complexity of both form and consciousness in evolution, the explanation for qualia, for subjective experience, the relationship of mind and brain, the subjective fact of love, kindness, compassion, intuition, genius, creativity, etc – all are infinitely more comprehensible within a non-materialistic than a materialistic framework.
3. Having gotten this far, with a sufficiently open mind, it can then be seen that materialism is actually a completely confused, incoherent way of thinking that is at the root of virtually all environmental degradation as well as the breakdown of the world financial system, as well as all wars, conflicts, etc.
Having seen this, a new science will emerge, and with a new foundation for knowledge, a new form of health care and a new education will emerge which in turn will provide a new, spiritual foundation for economics and politics.
Why not begin right now?
Josia Nakash says
Leon Dobbin says
Very insightful, thank you Charles. As someone that has studied some Buddhist/psychological literature, it makes my heart break. There are other ways to cut through the fabric of our stories, to break down the ‘calcifications of the ego’, in order to lay the real bare, and to rediscover our humanness, without waiting until after it’s too late.
I just hope and pray that the greater society awakens soon, and in a relatively peaceful manner.
I’m not sure what you’ve read Charles – and it may not be your area of interest or useful to you in your work – but may I recommend a very well-written friendly little book called “The Lost Art of Compassion” by Lorne Ladner if you or anyone is at all interested in ways of cutting through the mythos. The book mixes Buddhist techniques with modern psychology, and guides the reader through topics such as desire, the ego, contemplating impermanence, seeing through projections etc. I stumbled across the book by chance, shortly before being diagnosed with cancer earlier this year – now resolved – and found I was remarkably unperturbed by the ordeal.
In any case, I didn’t mean to advertise. Thank you for your voice. Thank you for all that you do. I’m looking forward to the Money & Life film next year, and will attend the Economics of Happiness Conference in Byron Bay if I am able (I live in Auckland, NZ, so not too far away!). Happy Holidays to you and your family.
awesome! I had a hunch that you’d written a new article.
why don’t you write for realitysandwich anymore?
Barbara Dewey says
So insightful! Thank you, Charles.
Susan Livingston says
This is what I needed after listening to that podcast in your Facebook thread. Thank you!
Thank you Charles! Please keep weaving for, and with, us. I think healing and love, on both the individual and collective levels, are the warp (the basis) of the new story. I’m unsure what the weft is, perhaps events such as Sandy Hook that get our attention and focus us on the warp again?
Thanks for the Love, Charles.
Beautifully written – and I kept thinking – yes I was there as well – with you in the dream back in the 70s – and now the world looks so different. I put it down to moving from the brain to the Heart – and it is already happening quickly and i guess will accelerate in the next few years. And the new Story is going to be so amazing – it is not possible to conceive of (yet).
Susan Eve says
It is so great to feel this with you, it is exactly what I have been thinking of these last several years. It is like you put words to our collective experience. I feel a very deep longing to connect with others in this space between stories, or I would describe it as the gap between the unreal and the real. So thank you for this place to connect.
I see a vision of us being a part of a coordinated shining of our lights, a love grid around the earth. This is far better in my minds eye than always traversing the dark nights of the soul seemingly alone. For in reality we are One, one with each other, one with Nature and one with the Universe beyond.
Using our imagination to see the reality of this I find helpful. It is not always easy with so much of the violent imagery that “they” inflict on us. It takes so much deliberation to turn away from it. So I will see you all there in the love grid of my prayers and together we will create new images of a loving world.
James R. Martin says
Good article. Thanks!
I think it is worth noting that the old familiar cultural story / mythos that you speak of had as one of its basic elements a thought / belief of its own “true” story as being singular, homogenous and monolithic, as having a kind of center and periphery, of itself as comprehensive and commensurable with all true stories about the world. Its myth about itself is that it utterly trancended and excluded myth, forced myth beyond its periphery, and out. Only that contained within its singular story-circle-enclosure was to be taken seriously and as ‘real’ and ‘true’. One story: a uni-verse.
I’m not hoping for a replacement of this One Story with another unifying mythos which is held to be faultless and comprehensive and complete. I’m hoping for a new center for all stories: one anchored and rooted in kindness and love, joy and celebration, generosity, courage, compassion — what some call the “qualities of the (true) heart”. These qualities inform our cognition but are not enclosed by it. They are trans-religious, trans-philosophical, universal because emerging from the silent ground of our deepest, truest nature.This nature inevitably transcends all story and myth. At this level of being-awareness, freedom and peace and love and wisdom are identical. But these words are themselves but a finger pointing at the moon, a raft to be dropped upon crossing a river. I am not creating a myth here. Burn this note after reading.
Larry Carney says
Yep, there are many more causes out there than we realized. We all long for permanency but live in a world of change. Te philosopher Etienne Gilson described philosophy like ships at sea: each time you dthink you’ve passed the last ship, you see another coming on the horizon.
As someone with much free time to think about where our civilization has arrived, I am constantly amazed at the exponentially increasing pressure to domesticate the last… savage ? (in French, the word “sauvage” means wild, in addition to meaning brutal) impulses that we, as human beings, are capable of feeling.
Several years ago, after a series of personal revolutions, I came to the conclusion that we live in a world where you can’t cut the visible top side of a piece of fabric without cutting the invisible underside at the same time.
During the period referred to as the Enlightenment, an attempt to kill the king (regicide) was punished by an elaborate torture that saw the perpetrator drawn and quatered, and flayed while still alive. The execution was public, and drew huge crowds for which it was popular entertainment. Perhaps the people were less squeamish than we have become ?
And yet… Voltaire and Rousseau were writing sophisticated works which still can be appreciated by people more cultivated than myself.
We have yet to come to terms with the thought that love is not an absolute value : it does have its… drawbacks. Its dark underside. It is not just a Disney film with a happy end.
For the past 2000+ years we have been drawing energy from the Paulinian project, in religious or secular form : “in Christ there is no east nor west, in him no north nor south, but one great fellowship of LOVE throughout the whole wide earth”.
That is a totalitarian project, as I may have said here before. It is STILL the totalitarian project of the western world…. and beautifully offsets our democratic ideals…It allows us to impose the Paulinian project on the whole wide world… “for their own good”. Terrifying, in my eyes.
What we call civilization, ours, at least, appears increasingly to be our own collective domestication.
Domestication, like love, has its advantages… and its disadvantages. In the uncertain times coming up, it has lots of disadvantages.
I believe that we refuse to come to terms with the negative in ourselves, and that much of our individual and collective suffering comes from this refusal.
Lawrence Turner says
man got real stupid when he decided to control LIFE
man can not control LIFE as the only way to control LIFE is
to call upon Death
only one path left – the original natural path – go back to the symbiotic relation man had
the one that created the Ascendance of Man
BEFORE he decided to reject God and walk out of The Garden
the addition of a male deity was a key figure in the transition in which we supposedly left our “symbiotic relation” with nature…a lonely creator of the universe called God came much later…but don’t quote me 😉
Terryl Todd says
We have a new story. The foundations are in print (PROUT). It is WE that must accelerate our evolution and our success is guaranteed.
Carol Greenhouse says
Have you read Philip Slater’s Chrysalis Effect? Good fuel for the new book, I think.
Juniper Rose says
Very well put. Some people cannot handle the cloak of illusions being pulled off. Perhaps for some it is removed before they are strong enough. This, I feel, is a factor that causes people to do unimaginably horrific acts.
Chris Mills says
Hey Chuck, appreciate the link. Your writing and thoughts are excellent, dead on. Sandy Hook does feel like a giant piece of pure darkness, blocking out what little hope we have left. We soldier on, though, don’t we… Wishing you and your family a healthy and satisfying 2013.
Flora A Rogers says
As we always have, we lift up our hearts. As the spirit calls and each in their own way. Aho!
Always a pleasure to read you. I leave you with a quote from a book i recommend (much lighter than ACIM). This man is, as like you; ahead of is time. Eckhart Tolle ” A NEW EARTH ” I feel it resumes your essay :
” The closer we get to the end of our present evolutionary stage, the more dysfunctional the ego becomes, in the same way that a caterpillar becomes dysfunctional just before it transforms into a butterfly. But the new consciousness is arising even as the old dissolves.”
Thanks Charles for another pertinent and moving post. My only complaint is that they do not come often enough 🙂
It is a privilege to watch the new story unfold.
Thorsten Wiesmann says
Thanks Charles, as you know it is possible to suggest that the new story is about sharing. To see this new story more clearly it might be helpful to read the James Quilligan interview “Sharing the Commons. Humanity´s Collective Heritage” as given as a reprint from the magazin Share International in the latest OM Times. Here is the link: http://omtimes.com/2012/12/sharing-the-commons-humanitys-collective-heritage/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OmTimes+%28OM+Times+Magazine%29
By the way: I enjoyed your conversation with James on YouTube.
Helen Plourde-McSweeny says
Thank you so much for posting, finally. Before reading your essay, with the New Year
approaching, I had been thinking much on how we, humanity, could effect change
and it dawned on me that we just do not know how, yet. We often hear petition at religious or
community gatherings for World Peace.
But, as of yet, I, for one, can wish for, but not envision the “how” of
it. In our schools we teach literature
through “conflict”, every story has a conflict, a culprit, a _____ vs ________.
We perpetuate conflict in this way, program it in to the mind’s of our
youth. I do feel nostalgic when I
envision a world without a bad guy to fight.
My heart and soul understand the need for change, and my mind is working
its way, rather slowly, into grasping the concept. I am, however, inspired,
re-fueled, energized, and validated when I realize that this necessary change is felt by so many people
and extremely grateful that we have you as a voice.
Andy Lau says
Well said Charles and thanks. I’ve been feeling frustrated lately with my engineering design colleagues at Penn State. When I proposed recently that we found our design teaching on SHE – Social responsibility, Human fulfillment, and Environmental Sustainability, I was met with claims of wanting to brainwash students. Another line of resistance was to claim that employers of engineers don’t care much about such things so we shouldn’t either. The only innovation they seem to be able to grasp is making the next ipod or tablet computer. I take solace in doing what I can in my own classes but the larger struggle is draining.
Thanks for your comment, Andy. SHE sounds alot like some of the things I’ve been working on. It’s really important that engineers get into the mix with this more holistic thinking because technological innovation can be, in many ways, a driving force of the sustainable civilzation and peace that we all want for all life on Earth.
Beverley Golden says
Thank you Charles for a very poignant and touching piece. You have brought clarity to much of what I have been sensing and feeling, as to where we, the human species, have come from and are headed to. Great to have the opportunity to find you and be part of a growing movement who wants to bring awareness to the enormous task, yet powerful possibility, we can create for our future.
Ken Leisering says
The reason you suffer is because 99.9% of everything you do is for you, and there isn’t one! wei wu wei
A drug addict has two choices in life, admit the addiction=surrender,
ask for help=seek, ask, knock, and inquire for Truth/understanding of thyself
and finally listen to his/her inner guide/teacher and also work with and allow those who want nothing in return but his/her betterment and healing to take place=selfless service,
which all of this is the dissolution of the false self or egoic mind created conceptual identity and the acceptance of Unconditional Love=Unity or our true nature! This is the new NOT MYTH the world truly is behind all the false masks it wears to keep up the illusion of the false reality it has sowed for the past several thousand years.
The other choice is where the world has been and seems to be hell bent on continuing until the ultimate price is paid which is extinction.
It is this simple; Love thy neighbor as thyself, if you can’t then find out “who” can’t and why this one has not love to give! The only cause for not giving love is that one has not unconditionally loved them self=forgiveness=compassion which is the result of knowing thyself INNATELY, thus one cannot give what they them self have not accepted!
Evil is love gone in the wrong direction, the false identity has attached itself to its thoughts, that which it identified with or sees its self as =separation, it sees itself as a body which has thoughts happen to it. Yet if one thinks thoughts then it must be before them, in other words you don’t feel angry until first having angry thoughts, or jealous without jealous thoughts, your feelings are the RESULT of YOUR belief in the validity of the contents of the thoughts, hence as a man thinks, then so does he become, ask yourself who is this thinker, who is this me, my and mine, the “I” we ALL operate from? There is not anger and then you, you are the anger, there is not hatred and then you, you are the hatred, all of this goes away when there is no “you”=thought identification, when you come to realization of thyself! Think about it, you say I get angry sometimes, yet where are you going to get it? I got jealous, I got mad, again, where but your thoughts are you going to get these false illusions of the mind?
The only “seeming” lack in the whole world is that of unconditional love, yet all one need do is look at nature, at the gift of life itself, at the fact that there really is no reason for anyone’s existence to see that this all could only be GIVEN IN LOVE! Let go of the belief in separation and fear and all that remains is unity and love, one is true and eternal one is false and impermanent!
Just as muddy water clears when its no longer stirred up,
So the muddeld mind will return to stillness when it enters silence and is allowed to be emptied of all that was causing it to be stirred up. You are the cause and the cure, humanity is the cause of its own suffering thus, only humanity can be its own cure, the cure lies not outside its cause.
Thank you for that last line. I have been struggling with being sort of like a dithering “Chicken Little” wondering what I have to do to change things around. But God Herself is the one with the marbles, and I need to turn around and have faith that I am being prepared for whatever comes next. My task is just to get quiet and find the small quiet voice inside, and then operate from that place. Faith and trust are hard. But it does go better for me when I give it a shot.
Richard Lovejoy says
It’s a strange feeling right now – so much going on that seems to be getting worse – financial, political, ecological… yet still plenty of examples of ‘green shoots’ of the emerging story, and more everyday – this article being one of them 🙂 The more we put our focus on the new story, the more it grows.
I am 29 years old. A month or so ago I had an idea to write a manifesto called “Myths from My Childhood.” It was going to focus on religion, money, politics, etc. All the institutions that have let me down in the last 2 decades.
And then I read this. This makes sense.
I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. I’m going to digest it and incorporate your thoughts into my manifesto. Thank you Charles.
Jason Minnix says
I appreciate the acknowlegment of how ellusive a Story of the People is now. The references to being in a healing process remind me of the work of meaning making: that there is a break/opening in our meaning, emotional and thinking processing, insight, and a will to closure. I think the processes of healing/griefwork and meaning making are intermingled. It seems premature to try and articulate a Story of the People now.
When we grieve we are tempted to try and reason or theologize our way around pain that we can only walk through. This is why all of the “sayings” or “wisdom” stories from others are ash in our mouth. Yet people who will be present in their powerless to “help” us are gifts. As we move through the healing work there is indigenous meaning and story that can come only from within the process. And eventually it helps us locate ourselves in broader stories.
So what does it look like to live in a Storyless Story where a broader story is far away? Perhaps acknowledging that this is part of being human, that it’s OK, that we will be OK somehow, that the adjustment of our expectations may be the kindest and most generous thing we can offer ourselves and the world now . . . my sense is that we are frail in ways we think we are strong, yet we are resilient in ways we assume frailty. We have a great capacity to live with amibuity, complexity and uncertainty – though these capacities are underdeveloped in most, they are alive and well. Perhaps we will be able to still love, hope and trust in the chaos to come . . . a movement toward stories of identity over project for awhile.
I had a rather hard time chioosng just one type of physician I would want to work for. So many of them fascinate me, and with me not really going into any medical field other than support, I never gave this any thought in the past. After reading the list, I am more favorable of working for a neonatologist. It is difficult to think about how neonatologist physicians sometimes have the most difficult job in the world, but I can only imagine how amazing it would be to be a part of saving a baby’s life. I had a coworker once whose baby was born at 36 weeks, and her baby had a lot of heart and lung problems. There were concerns about whether or not they would ever fully develop once she had him, but after many months in the NICU, and many scares that happened during it, the doctors were able to save him and he is now a very healthy 5 year old. It is because of that I have a higher interest in the neonatologist field.I hate to say which type of physician I would care less to work for, and it is because I worry that many will take it the wrong way. When I was 16, I used to help my mom at an assisted living home as a caregiver. We would get to work at 7:00 A.M. every morning to prepare breakfast for four of the elderly men and women that we were caring for. We would then make sure that all bedding was changed, rooms were cleaned, meals were prepared, and appointments were handled. We worked 12 hour days, and they were always grueling. The owner of the home made sure that everyone had their medicine and made it to their doctor appointments on time. However, she was more worried about getting paid for her services than actually helping the elderly. She would yell at them if they did something wrong, and even call them terrible names. My mom reported her and we both quit our job, but it has always left a sting in my heart since then. It is because of my experience with that situation that I do not think I could ever work for a gerontologist. I know that the situations would be much different, but ever since my experience with caring for elderly individuals it is very hard for me to think about assisting a physician in geriatrics because I worry that someone else might treat the elderly in the same way the owner of the home did. I am a firm believer that the elderly deserve the ultimate care and comfort when going through any treatment and aging in general, but I do not think I could ever work in that environment again.
I was with you until “Try as we might, we cannot fit it into our Story of the World”. Sadly I couldn’t find anything in that “Story” so shocking it didn’t just slot right into all the other horrific scenes that have built up to create a thoroughly unpleasant Now.
Pete Ireland says
While your intention is admirable, there is lots of naval gazing in your article that takes liberties with history to manufacture a conclusion. One simple example is your suggestion that the Holocaust was more comprehensible than the recent school shooting. In what way? It’s a cynical downplay of an event dulled in memory by years to support your conclusion. As children the world is simple. As adults, it is complex. That is not a new idea. Your yearning for an easier to perceive historical epoch is actually a yearning to be a child again. Please don’t perceive this to be an attack on you, it is not. What I would prefer is that you used your considerable ability to engage with those of us who are excited about what the Information Age is doing for us (e.g your ability to conceive and publish this essay directly to your audience) and realised that the ignorance of childhood is not bliss, it’s ignorance.
Wow. The comments on this post are just as inspiring as the post itself. I am seeing so much synchronization happening, and all of the transformational ideas that I’m having are also manifesting in the minds of so many other people. Could it be that we are all scribling the same epiphanies into our notebooks? It’s true.
We’re all taking our part to bring about the fulfillment of the new story, of decentralization, partnership, and respect for the gifts that we are all blessed with. Everyone that is coming up with new concepts, models and technologies are contributing to the greater story that is emerging everywhere on Earth.
As we sink in and spread out, I see that this will truly be the tide to rise all ships, to enlighten all minds, to fill every belly, to connect every heart.
I suggest that all of you, in your meditations, reach out and become aware of the singularity of universal mind and see our light shining all across the globe and out into the cosmos.
We are one people, inhabiting one universe. http://vimeo.com/54667543
Dov Henis says
Graviton’s Energy-Mass Dualism
Gravity, The Monotheism Of The Universe
Everything in the dictionary and in the universe – nouns
and verbs objects and processes – originate
and derive from the energy-mass dualism, from the ongoing constant rate
conversion of mass to energy, from the ongoing resolution-release of inert
gravitons, mass, leaving the clusters of the fractured seed of the universe,
singularity, and becoming energy, mass in motion.
The Graviton’s energy-mass dualism derives from its
gravity, self-attraction, and its
propensity of the gravitons – the elementary particles of the mass of the
universe – to return to their singularity state of zero motion, of compacted
zero inter-particle distance.
Compactness: the default particle’s size and shape that
enable zero inter-particle distance at singularity.
This, commonsensically, is the matrix of the universe.
Dov Henis (comments from 22nd century)
Energy-Mass Poles Of The Universe
Life is the obvious manifestation of energy-mass dualism.
The sun’s energy, i.e. fast-moving mass particles, convert into slow-moving
temporary mass formats… DH
Hello, Charles. I don’t know if you actually read these comments –especially to postings that are months old– but I am hoping for your response. One of the things that really bugs me about online access to what others think and write is that there’s usually little actual conversation. It’s just a bunch of thought balloons which readers may or may not bring into engagement with each other.
Your descriptions of what has happened and what is happening around us now ring true to me. And yet my observations have led me to conclude not that we ought to look for new stories, but that we need to cultivate the feeling of being comfortable without them, in our “nakedness.” Stories are what you need if you insist upon living in denial. Why would we want yet another one? For me, casting about for stories is analogous to searching for new ways to make sugar. We were wired to like sugar originally because it signaled ripeness and calories. But once we had the power to get more of it, that’s exactly what we did. Now, it’s everywhere and in everything. We believe it’s necessary to make food savory. It’s not, though, and getting all wrapped up with it has actually impaired our ability to see what is really valuable and necessary. Our addiction to narrative operates similarly, I think. We ARE being prepared. But maybe it’s just to learn to grow without using stories. I hope so, anyway.
I’m looking forward to your next post.