Monday, January 29, 2007

Telling Stories

Since I've probably already put myself on some double-secret CIA watchlist by visiting the Alternative Radio website, there's probably no further harm in blogging about it. The Alternative Radio program last week featured David Korten talking about some ideas from his book The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Communities (see also, this excerpt). It intrigued me enough that I bought the MP3 version and have been trying to digest it over the past few days. As much to clarify my own thoughts about it as anything, I'm going to post a series of reflections on this speech.

One idea really caught my attention. After describing the pressing problems facing America today (consumerism, imperialism, environmental destruction, etc.), Korten makes the bold claim that the key to changing all this is changing the stories by which we define ourselves. Korten identifies three main "stories" that collectively form the foundation of our current "Empire" self-understanding. These are:
  1. The imperial prosperity story -- The financial prosperity of our society relies on wealthy investors having enough free cash to finance the enterprises that create our jobs. As these investors seek to maximize their own gains, the "invisible hand" of the market translates this to the prosperity of us all. We, therefore, must relieve the wealthy of regulations and tax burdens that slow this process. Furthermore, we must eliminate welfare programs which confine the poor to poverty by denying them the motivation to be productive members of society.

  2. The imperial security story -- The world is full of criminals, terrorists and enemies. Our security relies on a powerful military and police force to control the chaos.

  3. The imperial meaning story -- God tells us to go forth and establish dominion over the earth. This God favors the righteous with wealth and power, while the poor justly suffer divine wrath for their sins. "We may not know what those sins were, but they must indeed have been horrendous." Meaning is found in obedience to God and to his appointed representatives.
"These imperial stories," Korten says, "all affirm the legitimacy of economic inequality, the use of physical force to impose the will of rulers, and the special righteousness of the rich and powerful." He then adds, "Although it may seem absurdly simple, the key to changing the course of the human future is to change the stories by which we live."

You can probably guess that it was the "imperial meaning story" that really grabbed me. I had the initial, red-blooded American, "who is this godless communist attacking religion" reaction, but it was quickly followed by the evangelical realization that this change of stories is precisely what the message of Jesus is all about. The "story" that Korten asks for isn't a new story, it's an "old, old story" but one that we Christians seem to habitually forget.

Over the next few days I intend to look at these imperial stories that Korten presents and offer my own personal responses, which I hope will largely be specificly Christian responses.

2 comments:

sushil yadav said...

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.


Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.


When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.



A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.



FAST VISUALS /WORDS MAKE SLOW EMOTIONS EXTINCT.

SCIENTIFIC /INDUSTRIAL /FINANCIAL THINKING DESTROYS EMOTIONAL CIRCUITS.

A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY CANNOT FEEL PAIN / REMORSE / EMPATHY.

A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY WILL ALWAYS BE CRUEL TO ANIMALS/ TREES/ AIR/ WATER/ LAND AND TO ITSELF.


To read the complete article please follow either of these links :

PlanetSave

EarthNewsWire

sushil_yadav

Andy said...

That's an interesting perspective Sushil. Thanks for stopping by.