The Storyteller by Kathy Hansen
The only thing this past election really proved is that Americans are in a state of confusion and fear and don't know what to do about it. But science, as well as all creations myths, acknowledge that out of chaos come new forms. We are living in liminal, transitional times, which are chaotic and therefore open to change. We are in the midst of a world-wide revolution, not because we are discontent with the way the economy is going but because we must change the way we live or we face death and destruction through world-wide climate change, famine, over-population, war and disease.
Our culture is facing the dire consequences of our way of life, and we have to decide how we're going to meet those consequences. I think we need to listen to don Juan's advice to Carlos Castaneda, "Take Death as your advisor." We are going through the death phase of patriarchy, and it must die so something new can be born. The patriarchy won't serve the future.
But it is up to us how we make this transition.
While the whole world is going through this liminal time, we can only work on our part of the problem. And since America (our corporations, etc.) was at the forefront of creating a lot of those problems, it is up to America to change. The old capitalistic system and the government created to further its objectives - is geared to war and profit and it is not dealing with the truth of our changing world.
But Americans are being given a chance to re-shape our government for the next 300 years (at least) and the direction the American people choose to take all depends upon the Vision that people have of their future.
The Right Wing corporate vision wants to take us back to the past, a past where we were unconscious of corporate manipulation, but when we had hope for a "better future'. They, like the ancient Greek father gods, would rather swallow their children than let them have their day in the sun have their own vision, creativity and power. The way they tell it, the past was a safer, kinder life. And in many ways it was. But then the 60s happened and we woke up to the underside of how things really worked. We saw how corporations were poisoning our food, our air and our water. We saw how education was being sort-changed for the war machine. We saw the rich getting richer and everyone else dropping into poverty.
The revolution of the 60s still continues, for 60s ideals and ideas have taken root in our personal lives. Now we have to take those personal ideals to the level of community, which stretches around the Earth. And to do this, we have to tell the story of our times, not in a frightening way but in a positive way so that people are willing to sacrifice to change the way the world works.
Yes, we're all in this together, because corporations run the world. So we are all freedom-fighters. America is not alone in having her warring factions. Our civilization is undergoing a major test of our will and consciousness. Do we use all our wisdom and knowledge to face the death of the old ways truthfully so with ingenuity and determination we can create a new society, at peace and in harmony with the Earth; or do we let the "barbarians' that dream of death, war, profits and domination win out as we "party ourselves to death' like the ancient Romans?
The tipping point of political change will be getting enough people to understand the environmental need to change our way of life which is patriarchal capitalism - and then act on the knowledge to make the necessary changes in our way of life. But people will only go through the "liminal space' of notknowing and not being safe if they have an idea of what the cost will be if they don't get to the other side. And they need an idea of what is on the other side of that abyss if they are going to sacrifice an old way of life. For example, when we say we have to get away from our dependence on oil, the corporate story comes rushing in, telling us why we can't. We have to come up with the story of why we can do it, how we can do it, and what it will look like once we do it.
The people most negatively affected by the corporate mentality of greed and de-humanization are the very people defending that system. Something is obviously wrong. And that something is that the corporate story is drowning out the human story. The economy (i.e. Capitalism) is more important than people and the Earth. We might know this, but many more people don't seem to get it.
So Why Stories?
Most people going through hard times are easy prey for the old story of "If we don't have the "fathers' and capitalism to guide our way, how will we survive?" What people need are new stories not of superheroes that go to war against evil, but of those super-heroic powers of the body, mind (heart and intellect) and spirit which can transform each person and give us the freedom to change the world. What would happen if all of us cried out "Give me liberty or give me death!" and meant it?
The Right wing insists on a vision of the past. Progressives have to fine tune their vision of the future. We can do this through stories because stories capture the heart and transform our beliefs, by-passing the intellect. The Right Wing (ruled by the left brain J ) uses this power of the image and story to manipulate, intimidate and create fear. "Commies, lefties and gays are taking over our world. Fear them!" They define us because they have a story the old stories that said that gays and communists are Satan's spawn, if you will.
The people who buy into this story don't know any other way to think about things. That's why Progressives need to work on our presentation. We need to tell our stories in ways that attract people, that make them feel safe, that give them hope. These people do not want to hear that everyone and everything they've believed in has betrayed them. We know they need to hear it, but they don't know what to do about it (remember how you felt on first learning about what was really going on) and so they go into denial and go overboard in the opposite direction. And the right wing media snags their loyalty with their old story.
While progressives have wonderful stories to tell about the potential of our future, for the most part people only see that we are ripping down the old America that they love as we point out the greed, corruption and deceit of the people and corporations in power. We need to learn how to have conversations once again and tell our stories. If we bring up our most intense indignation about "the other side' and throw it in their faces, we stop conversation, as Jon Stewart said to Rachel Maddow the other night.