By Doc Klein, I Start Wondering Columnist
(Editor’s note: Doc’s creation looks at the stories that have arisen and taken hold in the American culture. He asks a question to really ponder on over the long July 4th weekend– should we be creating a different American story to help us move forward into the future? This post takes a little reading, but it’s a message that will resonate for a long time. Enjoy!)
ESSAY: THREE DOMINANT STORIES OF THE AMERICAN LANDSCAPE
In the American social landscape
we are witnessing three main archetypal stories emerging,
which are dominating our socio-politico scene right now.
The first dominant story is the Warrior Story
The warrior story has created a black and white world
where you are either on the good team or the bad team
and the good team must trump over the bad team.
Each team in this story of course sees themselves as the good team,
fighting great evils.
Each team sees their mission as the righteous mission
or at the very least the one true right path
Some of the warriors in this story have gotten very good at arguing their rightness
and dismiss any alternative perspective as simply an attempt to discredit their rightness.
Warrior stories secretly feel good, because doing battle against the enemy is a noble cause
and let’s face it, kicking ass, makes us feel powerful
Somewhere along the line, warriors in this story start to get tired of doing battle,
especially as their rightness starts to show some serious blindspots along the way,
that cannot be easily dismissed.
The second dominant story is the Orphan Story, meaning there is a whole group of people out there in the landscape that are disillusioned with the story they have been living and can’t seem to get anyone to fix their story. The orphan in this story does not feel overly empowered to take matters into their own hands because they realize the story is bigger than them, but they have yet to really see any actions that will lead to their story being dramatically different than their current story. The orphan blames the status quo, the orphan will likely also discover the promises of the new status quo are struggling mightily as well. After a while the orphan will just feel sick of the whole business and resign themselves to a quiet life of desperation
The Warriors and the Orphans, ideally, want a smart and intelligent Ruler Story to emerge. The Ruler Story is a cross between a benevolent dictator who finally has the hutzpah to make the hard decisions, but also the personality of a movie star that can really show up well on camera and say the right things when the right things are needed to be said. They accept that the Ruler will not be perfect and will have flaws as all rulers do, but they will be able to see these as minor hindrances in the work that needs to be done. The Ruler Story is grounded in the value of authority and largely patriarchal authority. This translates to having a firm loving father figure guide the show and assure us everything is going to be okay, because after all we are part of the noble cause.
There are of course, other stories at play as well in the American landscape, but these dominant stories really speak to the conditions that have been created through our cultural, political, and economic environments
It is possible we are in the age, where the old stories of the United States are no longer serving us and we must dismantle the structures that created this story in order to create a new American story. If this is true, there is much fear and uncertainty when it comes to what this means for the road ahead. Fear and uncertainty of course, create chaos and irrational behavior as we run around trying to hold on to our sanity, in what appears to be an insane world around us.
For me personally I am not waiting around for the world to correct itself with these dominant stories at play. I am seeking to imagine the world I want to live into and then engage others in the empowering act of imagination. I am seeking out the Sage Stories and the Magician Stories. I am seeking out the Love Stories and I am seeking out the leaders who understand that every citizen in this country
has great power to paint themselves and others into the landscape of their choosing.
This story will involve discomfort. This story will involve deep listening and small consistent actions that build trust over time. This story will involve stepping out of what we claim to know and sharing the road with those who are different than us. In this story we must build on what is working well and seek to lift people up versus tear others down.
I will continue to believe that we live in a landscape that is beautiful and filled with grace and I am willing to offer my intelligence, my love and compassion, and my joy in the creation of this new story that waits to emerge before us. I sure hope that you might be willing to share this road with me as we move forward into a mysterious and uncertain future.
Note: All graphics and text are the property of Doc Klein and cannot be reproduced or reprinted without his consent.