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Stories and Social Change

Stories and Social Change

Tammy July 23, 2006 0 comments

Tile_seahorse_large_1 Bas-relief hand-made tile, Seahorse, by Tammy Vitale of Tam’s Originals

Typepad just erased my whole blog for the day.  I am hopeful that this does not foretell another week like last week.  I could do without that thank you very much.

The impetus for today’s blog is from a report by Pew that bloggers are the nation’s new storytellers.  There is a great chart in the report on why bloggers blog which I tried to incorporate here and which may have been the reason for the erasure (in which case, it wasn’t Typepad at all, but some glitch between Typepad and the incorporated material).  So I will not imbed the table, but will refer you to the report to read for yourself.

Jean Houston (1989) says that "…we are clearly at the end of one age and not quite at the beginning of the new one.  We are the people who are treading air over the abyss, the people of the parentheses."  Thomas Berry (in 1991) ecologist and theologian says that we are at a time betwen stories.  It is as though "the old story about who we are and how to live doesn’t work anymore, and we don’t know what the new story is.  Yet we desperately want to find this new story."

Joseph Campbell in an interview with Bill Moyers (1988) says:  "I think our clergy is really not doing its proper work.  It does not speak about the connotations of the metaphors but is stuck with the ethics of good and evil…The difference between a priest and a shaman is that the priest is a functionary and the shaman is someone who has experience.  The people who can keep myth [story] alive are artists of one kind or another.  The function of the artist is the mythologization of the environment and the world [which comes from] the experience of people particularly gifted, whose ears are open to the song of the universe.  The mythogenetic zone today is the individual in contact with his [sic] own interior life, communicating through his art with those ‘out there.’"

What could be more "out there" than the internet?

Social change, for good or evil or anything in between, does not happen until individual change happens, and individual change only happens when we recognize that we have the power to act, to write not only new endings for our stories, but also new beginnings and new middles, even to dare to write stories that don’t have beginnings, middles or ends, but circle around and around in a great spiral that goes forward and back and up and down, sometimes all at the same time.

"Stories set the inner life into motion…Story greases the hoists and pulleys, it causes adrenaline to surge, shows us the way out, down, or up and for our trouble, cuts for us fine wide doors in previously blank walls, openings that lead to the dreamland, that lead to love and learning, that lead us back to our own real lives  (Clarissa Pinkola-Estes)

Thought for the day:  Let me tell you a story.  For all I have is a story…whoever understands it also understands that a story, as distressing as it can be in its joy, never takes anything away from anybody…The story depends upon every one of us to come into being. It needs us all, needs our remembering, understanding, and creating what we have heard together to keep on coming into being.  Trinh T. Minh-ha, Woman Native Other

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