I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being, so that we actually fell the rapture of being alive.*
Only the storyteller can transmute information – be it in the form of “objective” fact or “subjective” experience – into wisdom.**
At that point at which we seek to combine our life experiences with our innermost being, we will always find religion, politics, science, economics, arts, education, philosophy, sport and probably more, and, not only between but within each, there is argument.
Brian McLaren wrestles with his innermost voice’s questioning, which he personifies as a guineafowl puffer fish fleetingly encountered on his Galapagos trip:
Why can’t you admit that when you’re arguing about your God concepts, just as when you’re arguing about politics, you’re really arguing about the way you want to live, the future you desire for yourself and your descendants? Why can’t you see that these struggles, whether in religion or in politics or in philosophy or wherever, are essential to your struggle for survival – essential to your cultural evolution and all that it entails?^
Human life and all things contained by human life are evolving.
We struggle, though, to connect our life experiences with our innermost being. Two things that create a problem for us are speed and information.
Hugh Macleod writes about how hunter-gatherers would have to conserve their energy in dry seasons (he’s likening this to the coronavirus lockdown we find ourselves n):
But all of this non-movement had an upside; it gave one an opportunity to sit. And think. And reflect.^^
And tell stories.
In our modern world, many of us have lost the seasons, protected against the ups and downs of the weather and food harvests. It’s all the same and it’s all fast. And our storytelling has suffered as a result. It is being replaced by information. Our arguments are over information. Maria Popova has argued that only story can transmute information into wisdom and explains her concern:
The death of storytelling […] is both the result and a further cause of this gaping rift between wisdom and information – a concern even more valid and worrisome today, in our story-yelling era driven by the illusion that the latest and the loudest are the most significant and most deserving of our attention.**
Great storytellers do not provide explanation – the very thing we want information to do – but allows the listener to make their own sense, connections and find their flourishing in what is being shared:
Actually, it is hard the art of storytelling to keep it free from explanation as one reproduces it … .*^
We need stories that allow for each person’s life experience and innermost being to connect, to be able to feel alive, to deal with the information constantly thrown at us and shape our evolution in a healthier direction.
(*From Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth.)
(**From Maria Popova’s Brainpickings: Walter Benjamin on Information Vs. Wisdom and Storytelling as the Antidote to Death by News.)
(^From Brian McLaren’s God Unbound.)
(^^From gapingvoid’s blog: Living through the dry season.)
(Walter Benjamin, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brainpickings: Walter Benjamin on Information Vs. Wisdom and Storytelling as the Antidote to Death by News.)