Why I/you/we need story consciousness

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sidewalk in fron ot Emanuel AME Church

I woke up this morning with a line from Dickens in my head: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…”

The Supreme Court has ruled in support of the Affordable Care Act and affirmed the right of gay people to get married. Nine black Americans were killed by a racist white man at their church in Charleston, SC. and some people still think it’s okay to fly the Confederate flag because “it’s who we are.”

These events are the result of a battle between mythologies that has been roiling in our collective unconscious for some time, challenging us to examine our notions of self and Other, Us and Them. Our myths tell us who we are and what is important. Each of us needs to become more conscious of our guiding myths and stories if we want a loving, inclusive, life-affirming society.

Working with myths and stories is an important part of this process. When you regularly reflect on stories and put yourself into them, you begin to develop story consciousness. When you listen to the myths and stories of people who are different from you and allow them to unsettle your certainties, you begin to develop story consciousness. You start to understand that you, we, are always in story. As Muriel Rukeyser said, “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”

Myths and stories are reality. As you become more conscious of this, you can make choices, and you can take responsibility for your beliefs, assumptions, and truth. You can be part of bringing a new cultural story into the world. This is the subject of the Myth in the Mojave program that I recorded this week and I’m posting it here (use the player below) because I want to be in conversation with everyone that I know about the ways that we can bring about a mini- revolution in consciousness.


“Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.” — Salman Rushdie

Let me know what you think