the back story

‘Many faiths believe that some day a messiah would appear and end all wars, famines, and even death itself.  But the notion that humankind could do so by discovering new knowledge and new tools was worse than ludicrous – it was hubris.’*

‘We are conditioned to search for similarities not differences.’**

Once upon a time there was a back story …

A back story is our way of explaining backwards why things are as they are now.  They’re often told by the people with the power or influence or kudos for why their belief, their political argument, their right to be leader is the right one.  These stories aren’t necessarily true but every day we believe them because we want to, because it’s easier than the alternative.

If Frans Johansson is right (the second quote, above) and we are conditioned to look for similarities – please conform – then we can also be re-conditioned to look for differences.

A forward story is a way of imagining what might be when we understand and express the power and idea we find within, and within a group of people working together.  It’s a story that recognises everyone has something to imagine, to make and to ontribute.  This will sound like chaos to some, but as John O’Donohue helps us see, nobility as a characteristic of being human, is something to be found in all kinds of wild and weird people who do not want to conform:

‘The Irish word “Uaisleacht” means nobility; it also carries echoes of honour, dignity and poise.  A person can be wild, creative and completely passionate and yet maintain Uaisleacht.’^

Richard Rohr argues that every thing has something to offer, too:

‘In fact, you can trust after a while that almost everything is a kind of guidance – absolutely everything.’^^

This is an expansive understanding of the universe and of our place with in it, one with flow in which we find ourselves exploring wonder and meaning.  Richard Sennett writes about anthropomorphism of the brick, blocks of clay built together being described as  a “shining mane of hare,” “mottled skin,” “an old man’s weathered face.”  Furthermore:

‘The attribution of ethical human qualities – honesty, modesty, virtue – into materials doesn’t mot aim at explanation; its purpose is to heighten our consciousness of the materials themselves and this was to think about their value.’*^

There’s something in this that speaks of how it’s possible to be emotionally connected to all people and all things, a way of engaging with our personal gift, too, seeing all kinds of ways for turning it into a contribution because we value it.

Time to be a fabulist and tell a different story.

(*From Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens.)
(**From Frans Johansson’s The Click Moment.)
(^From John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.)
(^^From Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell’s The Divine Dance.)
(*^From Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman.)


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