Doug, I guess I'm confused by your last response. Talking about myth is confusing anyway, if we're not coming from a similar understanding of what myth is. From your following comment: "So, from my point of view, “changing the story” is absolutely a necessity for our changing times but we must also know what the story is and how it must be changed. We must understand that not everybody tells the same story or needs the same changes." I gathered that you thought myth had to speak to the times and the people. So I was trying to understand why your response seemed to find my response not in agreement with you.
I'm not very knowledgeable about this subject so you could help me here. I'm not trying to argue, just understand. Thank you.
Just now read your post below, found it very interesting. I agree that a new myth is needed. I think that myth must bring science and religion together in the sense that they are vehicles of truth. They can bring the highest good to humanity when the virtues that honor humankind and mother earth are the foundations of the myth. For me this is not myth, but reality.
I really enjoyed Joseph Campbell's stories about mythic structure and the hero's journey. I saw parallels to the stories I heard from elders as they told our stories. My language teacher used to share about how tribes are always telling their "story" and that it goes back to ... the beginning. Thanks for sharing about story and life. Welcome to the Four Worlds Social Network. Please explore this ever growing site and share your wisdom, especially in the councils. There are many features and tools that encourage sharing. Your page is yours to customize for sharing your background with the community, and your page looks awesome! Thanks for joining and walk with a good step.
“Joseph Campbell often said that while mythic structure is universal, myth itself is constantly renewed through reinterpretation. Every generation must re-contextualize myth to suit their times, to create their own road map for how to fit into the world. He often suggested that the scarcity of modern myth is an incalculable loss to our culture.”
I see a lot of use of the phrase: “Change the story, change your life, or your world, or your community, or what ever.” I don’t think the idea is new or original. I sometimes think that I live in a state of forced myopia. Not from a lack of awareness about the state of things but from an inability to handle all the information that modern technology makes available at any given moment. I must therefore be selective in what and how much information in which to immerse myself. I try to be broad minded and open to wide ranging sources and points of view but I still fall short of the ideal as an information sponge and processor. It is this veritable tsunami of information that also makes it difficult for me to believe that we can actually generate an individually unique thought or idea. The validity of an idea then doesn’t come from its originality but from the fact that any number of strangers exposed to different information and experiences can create convergent thoughts that support the same idea. The challenge in our culture comes with the argument of who owns the idea. Intellectual property is the title I believe is given to this “thing” that we then employ lawyers to sort out for us. This concept is the topic of a completely different discussion.
Changing the story is the idea that is of most interest to me. In 1987 during the Interviews with Bill Moyers, Joseph Campbell charged that he believe the world, our culture specifically, was in a mess because we had not created “the myth to match our times.” What I heard when listening to the interviews was that the storytellers had failed to do their jobs. This does not preclude the responsibility of the rest of society but it does give us a place at which to start.
In my work as a storyteller in workshops, performances, and in college teaching I have found that the phrase “change the story” has become cliché. The phrase is thrown around as if it is somehow “the answer” and is a simple thing to do. Anyone that has done any kind of individual or group counseling knows just how difficult it actually is to change personal or group behaviors, perspectives, and beliefs. Another aspect of changing the story comes with the assumption that people actually know what the story is. How many of us have come to the awareness that advertising is storytelling with the focused intention of manipulating us into a frame of mind where we are not sufficient or adequate until we have the right car, house, cloths, use the right shampoo, have the right hair color, drink the right beer, and on adnauseam. These stories, though well conceived and very effective do not serve us individually or collectively. They create destructive behaviors to individuals, communities and our culture. If you don’t buy this idea check the statistics on personal credit card debt, family health, mental illness and drug and other forms of abuse in all populations of our culture.
Another aspect of the “story” as told in the context of leadership is that what is often called for in leadership is rugged individuality and quick, solid decisions without signs of weakness. Yet much of decision making that would result in positive outcomes for the most people requires clarity, honesty, humility, and humanity all of which are perceived as weakness. Anyone that has spent any time in a leadership role knows full well that social and emotional wounding and attacks are an expected part of the job. I know people who have refused leadership positions because they are not willing to become targets. Why does this belief continue? It is, I believe, embedded in the story that pervades our culture. I believe we are still living as if our businesses and communities are city states that must be controlled by warrior kings. When things are not well we must sacrifice the king. This story no longer serves us in a time when cooperation and collaboration are needed.
So, from my point of view, “changing the story” is absolutely a necessity for our changing times but we must also know what the story is and how it must be changed. We must understand that not everybody tells the same story or needs the same changes. We must also understand that each of us as storytellers cannot possibly take on this task alone. It will be by working together sharing ideas and experiences, successes and failures that we will be able to take on the role that Joseph Campbell suggested that we take and re-establish the value of myth, folklore, and story in our culture. My future vision is that storytellers will be seen by our culture as more important than bankers.
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