“The word narrative is bandied about a lot today, so that it’s almost become a cliché. But clichés are born from insight. In this case, it is about the power of the stories that we tell about ourselves, each other, and the world to cohere us in a common purpose.
“A lot of the things that we need to do today don’t make sense if you are the only one doing them. A story can order the world, so that we see our choices as part of a larger happening. Granted, the “larger happening” unfolding on Earth today is bigger than any story that we could make about it. Nonetheless, for me a story that allows me to make meaning of my life, identify my allies, and understand what my role is, is essential.
“The understanding of the power of narrative extends to all parts of the political spectrum. Everyone wants to control the narrative, a power for good or for ill. Adolph Hitler understood it well, riding a narrative of racial superiority and national glory that legitimized his ambitions and channeled latent cultural energies toward genocide and conquest. Today we also have powerful unresolved energies in society, just like in the 1930s: discontent, desperation, hostility to the elites, anger at the way society has turned, grief over the loss of community. How these express depends in large part on how problem and solution, cause and effect, are narrated to us.
“If we want to serve peace and wellbeing for all people, a world of healing where society and all the beings on this planet are moving toward greater wholeness, we’d better make sure that we’re telling the right story. Today the dominant narrative, whether we recognize it or not, is a war narrative, not only on the obvious level of US foreign policy, identifying enemies around the world and bombing them, but also in our basic understanding of how the world works and how to solve problems. War thinking permeates the public psyche. To build a peace narrative, we need to identify the existing foundational war narrative. So, I will begin by excavating it and laying the foundation of a peace narrative. Then I’ll move on to its building components and architecture.”
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