SYNTHESIS OF: ISHMAEL BY DANIEL QUINN
AND CHANGE THE STORY, CHANGE THE FUTURE BY DAVID KORTEN
“We humans live by stories. A shared story is the basis of the ability of any people to live together as an organized society. The society’s ability to organize as a secure and prosperous community depends on the authenticity (validity) of its story. Those authentic stories come out of the shared experience of a people and take their form through largely unconscious processes extending over generations. There are also inauthentic stories fabricated to serve the interests of a ruling class at the expense of the rest. We currently organize as a global society by such an inauthentic story and we are now bearing the tragic consequences. We are eroding Earth’s capacity to support human life. Guided by the Money market story we have created a global suicide economy designed to make money with no concern for the consequences for all life. If our goal is only the short term growth of the financial assets of a tiny financial oligarchy, only then could the system be deemed a success. Propagandists in the employ of corporate interests have stepped in with their Money Markets story to assure us that shopping and competition for money, financial status and material status symbols can fill our need for meaning, purpose and relationship. These pursuits become addictive distractions. They cannot provide true fulfillment no matter how obsessively we pursue them. Our divisive focus only on individual gain creates the illusion of freedom in the midst of the corporate cage of tyranny. We must become more aware and discipline ourselves to recognize and challenge the fabricated Money Market story wherever we encounter it. We must demand that ‘champions of money’ make their case within a Sacred Life and Living Earth frame.
We humans are living beings born of and nurtured by a living Earth. Life exists only in community. The prime task of any living community is to maintain the conditions essential to the life of its members. A connection to nature and community is essential to our physical and mental health and well being. It is our nature to care and share for the benefit of all.
Our new framing vision and story looks like this:
1) maintains a co-productive balance between humans and nature.
2) provides a healthy, meaningful livelihood for all based on a just and equitable sharing of real wealth
3) gives every person a voice in decisions on which their well being and that of the whole depend.
These three critical elements of this Sacred Life and Living Earth story live in the human heart. Largely unspoken, it presently has little public presence. To guide our path to a viable human future, it must become our shared public story. This is our opportunity to make it so!!
We cannot act coherently as a society without a shared framing story. It defines our shared values and priorities, the questions we ask and options we consider. For this reason, no matter how discredited an established story may be, we cling to it in our public discourse until it is replaced by a more compelling story!! Corporate interests repeat and reaffirm the Money Markets story at every opportunity. ’Time is money.’ They use it as a frame for every news report and political debate. They teach it in our schools. And so long as we keep believing it, it defines our future. In truth, every assertion of this Money Markets story is false and grossly misleading. The story is based on bad ethics, bad science and bad economics. We now see the environmental devastation, economic desperation, social alienation and the political corruption this fatally flawed story leaves everywhere in its path..
The frame on the New Story is simple: Sacred Life. Living Earth, moving from “Time is money” to “Time is Life.”(Or as Jose Arguelles says: “Time is Art!”) Those who live in service to life, must organize around the articulation and sharing of a compelling, unifying counter story. We must make the articulation of a Sacred Life and Living Earth story a focal point in all arenas of our lives. Ask of every decision moving us toward the new story:
“Does this serve life or money? Does this decision increase or decrease corporate monopoly control of the means of living? Does it favor the concentration or equitable distribution of ownership? Does it restore and enhance or further undermine the function of Earth’s living systems? Does it strengthen relationships of caring and sharing or further monetize them?”
So the real question becomes, “How do we determine how best we can allocate our life energy, human time and talents to maximize living returns to people and nature?” We have a responsibility to secure and defend the rights of nature. Our existence and well being depend on Her.” David Korten
If you feel deeply moved by this theme of exploration, also read the brilliantly inspired and compelling novel Ishmael by Daniel Quinn!!
I want to briefly share the key concepts from Ishmael to further define the past story that has the present chaotic outpicturing we are living in, so that we can CHANGE THAT STORY!
“You are captives of a system and story that compels you to go on destroying the world in order to live. The real problem is that you cannot SEE the bars of the cage you are in because you have been so enculturated with the story that you don’t even see it organizing your reality any more. What if you discovered that you have been being grossly lied to by that story and found out what the lie is?
Two fundamentally different stories have been enacted here during the lifetime of man. One began to be enacted here some two to three million years ago by the people we will call the “Leavers”, and it is still being enacted by indigenous people today as successfully as ever. The other story began to be enacted here some ten to twelve thousand years ago by the people we will call the “Takers” and as a story, is apparently about to end in catastrophe. The Takers regard the world as a sort of human life-support system , as a machine designed only to produce and sustain human life.
Cultural stories all have to explain and justify how things came to be the way they are. This creation myth/story has to cover all the way up until now that includes the destruction of the Earth, pollution of the oceans, rain forests and even human extinction. So that the people in the story will just continue to “put their shoulders to the wheel” during the day, stupefy themselves with drugs or television at night and try not to think too searchingly about the world they’re leaving to their children to cope with.
The central precept of this creation myth/story is that the world was made for man and man was made and had a destiny to rule it. In order to fulfill his destiny the story was that he was to bring order out of chaos. And so in this story man had to conquer nature. It was just seen as the price of enacting a story that casts mankind as at war with the energy of the natural world. And more importantly, in this story man was seen as the pinnacle of creation. In the story, evolution stopped there. Thus man had dominion over all life, not stewardship but dominion. They didn’t belong to the Earth. The Earth belonged to them to do with as they pleased. It was seen as nothing more than a commodity to be used up. So it was “natural” in that myth to want to have control over nature. Man also had to learn to manipulate his environment so that there would always be plenty of food so he became an agriculturist. With agriculture, man was free of the perceived limitations of hunting and gathering. The myth says that as a conclusion, when we are in complete control, everything will be a paradise. So we were given the story to enact in which the world is a foe to be conquered, and one day, inevitably, their foe will lie bleeding to death at their feet, as the world now is!
So what is the actual natural law of the story that governs life and keeps the living community of life together? That law organizes things on the biological level just the way the law of gravity organizes things on a macroscopic level. The Taker mythology maintains that man is the biological exception, singular, apart from nature. However, the natural law is: those that don’t live in accordance with that law become extinct! The law is simple: It is the peace keeping law. It’s the law that fosters life for all life.. that honors the sanctity of all life to live and exist equally. In the old myth/story, man decided he was exempt from this law. And so they began to employ that exemption by killing all competitors which is something that never happens in the natural world. Animals in nature only kill for food, not to exterminate competitors. Next the Takers systematically destroyed their competitors food to make room to grow their own. Takers expanded, killing Leavers to make room to cultivate more food. Nothing like this occurs in nature. The rule there is, take what you need and leave the rest alone. Next the Takers deny their competitors access to food. In natural law you can compete but you may not wage war. You can have one gazelle, but not the whole herd. Take away diversity and you have taken away a major survival factor in the natural world. We are destroying the worlds diversity because we are in a very literal way at war with it.
In the natural world if the food supply increases the population increases. Taker culture used agriculture to support and foster unlimited, unstoppable growth. Quite simply if we don’t live under the one natural law of Peace, we won’t continue to live. Takers believe that what they were doing was right..and not only that but there was only one right way to do it and therefore it had to be done at any cost whatsoever including the end of humanity. The Takers accumulate knowledge about what works well for things. The Leavers accumulate knowledge about what works well for people.
You can’t just stop being in a story. You have to have another story to be in. You can’t just stop things, use less of things. People need a story that includes something to work toward. That new story positions man not as the pinnacle of creation, but rather as a role model for fostering the development of self awareness and intelligence in all forms of life. Man’s place is to be first without being the last. The first species to figure out how it is possible to make room for all the rest of life to be capable of becoming what he has become as self conscious awareness and intelligence! And we are all writing that new story!”