Our lives are comprised of stories; they ARE our lives. They are the constructive constituents of our very reality.
We all have stories and we all listen to the stories that we are told.
They spread through generations until we accept them as truth. Some stories are toxic. They control our behaviour and neighbourly relations through the fear provoked by their apparent infallibility.
The pernicious and unquestioned story of our own individual world is an empire, it allows our actions to be dictated by a set of instilled assumptions brought about by the experiences of our ancestors, of whom we have very distorted images of perfection and strength. We can recognise these stories by the things they make us do.
These stories of empire turn us into hypocrites, into subservient slaves and into prisoners of the very stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. This is the uniqueness of humanity; that our realities are constructed, not by events but by the stories we tell ourselves about events, happenings, and the stories of catastrophic future events if we do not behave in certain pre-set ways today.
At a most basic level we have a human instinct to preserve the status quo, to keep things as they are, acknowledging our immediate environment and only imminent and visible dangers. Whatever our present reality, even if it is detrimental to our own wellbeing, our instinct is to keep it that way. It is the difference between responsibility and blame.
When we don’t take responsibility we like to blame others for the actions of our own lives, and we allow ourselves to become the thing we dislike about the people we blame for these very things we don’t want to be. Through blame we change nothing for the better, we just drag people down and attempt to destroy their spirit. Through responsibility we move forwards. We can take responsibility for changing things we were not to blame for – we must, for if we don’t take responsibility for turning the machine around we are complicit in mega crimes against the future and are fully to blame anyway. Our children will hold us culpable as much for the monstrous inactions we are currently committing as much as the monstrous actions themselves. Ignorance is not an option.
The Parable of the Tribes
Ideas spread like the tribes. Individual worlds (like tribes) live within reach of one another. If all choose the way of peace, then all may live in peace. But what if all but one tribe chooses peace, and that one is ambitious for expansion and conquest? What might happen to the others when confronted by this neighbour?
Perhaps one tribe is attacked and defeated, its people destroyed and its lands seized for the use of the victors. The land becomes run beneath the dominant ideology (arrogance, underpinned by expansion and conquest – not peace).
There is another tribe, which is defeated. However it is not made extinct. Rather, it is subjugated and transformed to serve the conqueror. The land becomes run beneath the dominant ideology (arrogance, underpinned by expansion and conquest – not peace).
A third tribe doesn’t want to face disaster, so it flees from the area into some undesirable place, and its former land becomes possessed by the dominant tribe with no effort required. The land becomes run beneath the dominant ideology (arrogance, underpinned by expansion and conquest – not peace).
Let us suppose that another tribe has seen what is going on and wants to defend its land so the people can preserve themselves and their autonomy. They get weapons and develop successful defences against the dominant tribe.
However, in defending in such a way, this tribe has become just like those from whom they are trying to protect their land. Therefore the land becomes run beneath the dominant ideology and the citizens become complicit in this idea. The tribe has had to assimilate with the aggressive ideology and so the idea has spread anyway.
These are decisions we make every day. But we can find another way outside of these options. We don’t have to remain inside the paradigm of force in which we presently reside.
We can transcend violence; in fact we HAVE to transcend violence, both objective and subjective (unconscious/accepted and recognised/acknowledged).
We must use our collective imagination, to stand up to the violence that we subject others and ourselves to. We have to recognise the ways in which we hold an unconscious imperial control over one another and break these systems through non-violent activism.
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Andy Mort is a UK based musician and writer. He is the founder of Sheep Dressed Like Wolves: a Blog and Podcast helping introverts and highly sensitive people recognise and embrace their creativity; and identify what is holding them back from living with the passion, purpose, and meaning they seek in a sometimes overwhelming world.