Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bring me the storyteller

The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.
(Tertullian, 2nd century Christian author and zealot from Carthage)

Those who tell the story rule the world.
(Hopi Indian proverb)

The times, they are so interesting

The speaker was Shane Snow, CEO of Contently, a media/branding company. By chance I happened to see him on one of the familiar TED presentations. Snow's talk centered on telling stories that make us care. His presentation is at the end of this article.

I suspect part of the reason I viewed this particular presentation is because we've had unceasing news coverage regarding the Islamic State terrorizing the Middle East. As well, at the same time, we have all seen the pictures from West Africa and the global community's inability, to date, to contain the Ebola outbreak—and finally, the climate summit, which began with the march in New York this past Sunday. What will we do this time? What is the story and who is telling it? It actually does matter to all of us across the globe, whether we understand it or not.

Recently, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham hysterically proclaimed that we'll all (“all,” meaning Americans) be murdered in our beds if President Obama doesn't destroy the Islamic State. Graham is one of the more contemptible bottom feeders in a corrupt and essentially useless United States Congress. He can best be thought of as Senator John McCain's pet rock, another confused American politician that needs to retire to one of his six or seven homes.

Flickering shadows around the camp fire

Some twenty-five years ago Joseph Campbell, the author of The Power of Myth, brought to public television his remarkable series about mythology and storytelling throughout human history. We Homo sapiens have been telling tales from the very beginning. It's a central part of what makes us human.

Anthropologists have discovered human grave sites more than 100,000 years old, which clearly indicate rituals for the dead, with the bodies oftentimes laid out in particular positions and jewelry and various belongings placed in the graves. The sky gods, the dragons and the demons have always been with us whispering in our ears, soothing us one moment and terrifying us the next.

The secret of the process by which consciousness invests history with meaning resides in the 'content of the form,' in the way our narrative capacities transform the present into a fulfillment of a past from which we would wish to have descended.
(Hayden White, historian)

Believing what I say

While the Islamic State and its numerous fellow-travelers may be the latest example of how monstrous humankind can be, and who deserve no tolerance whatsoever, they are not Hitler's Wehrmacht, except perhaps in the minds of the usual political suspects and of course those who have a vested interest in embarking on another military crusade.

The retired general and admirals with their war maps and lucrative consulting fees are being wheeled out to advise us, in somber voices, that we must confront this global evil to preserve civilization or some variation of the story.

The American kleptocracy can sit back in their chairs for the moment, knowing that the public is frightened once again, easily manipulated and distracted and remains as uninformed as ever. Now how many citizens were murdered by guns on American streets this past week? Does anyone actually care?

The spreading Ebola epidemic in West Africa has many fathers, from illiteracy and cultural practices to civil war, poverty and indifference. Some health organizations have estimated that some 1.4 million people could be infected with the Ebola virus by this winter. See Ebola Virus Cases May Hit 1.4Million. If ever a compelling story was needed, it is now.

Several days ago Senator James Inhoff of Oklahoma stumbled out onto the stage to advise reporters that IS terrorists were already in the U.S. ready to strike. Inhoff’s claim to fame is that he said a number of years ago that global warming was a “hoax.” It was all those scientists seeking grants from the public trough that created the global warming fairy tale. For an interesting piece on “creating” the story and climate change see Why our brains are wired to ignore climate change and what to doabout it.

The ultimate story for all of us is yet to be written. Now would be a good time to gather together the genuine storytellers.

Reading about terrorism and the middle east:

The Ebola virus:

Climate change:

Depressing comic relief:

No comments: