Story Telling; Mistaking Familiar Lies as Truth
Why is conflict so prevalent in the world today? Why is it that when people encounter each other they are quick to pass judgement and slow to communicate? How is it that we possess the ability to understand each other through honest and open discourse, but we instead choose not to speak? How can so many men and women believe that the only course of action worth taking is one that ends in human conflict, mass suffering and lives lost? It must have something to do with the stories we tell ourselves; because it has very little to do with the truth.
People love stories. Our history is peppered with the stories that our ancestors where raised on. Good stories are the hallmark of civilized society after all. They collectively form a cultural identity. They help us to develop a sense of identity in a broader context than the tiny little sphere we find ourselves in. These stories give us the blueprint on how we should think, feel, and act when it comes to all sorts of things. This is happening every second of every day within our minds eye. Whether you are lying in bed listening to your grandmother read “Hansel and Gretel” aloud as you fall asleep, or whether you are sitting alone on a park bench with only your thoughts to keep you company, your mind is telling you a story. A story that is composed of all the things you’ve been through, all the opinions you’ve heard, all the movies you’ve seen, and every other event that you’ve experienced.
A little story here or there is a wonderful thing. It allows us to exercise our imaginations and, as I stated earlier, it allows us to venture past the limited sphere of experiences we encounter in our day to day. Many lives are enriched by the addition of a powerful narrative. But what happens when the stories are mistaken for the truth? What happens when these stories are repeated so often that they become mistaken for the kind of concrete knowledge that is only gained from first hand experience? Our modern civilization has both a blessing and a curse in the technological infrastructure we’ve amassed. A blessing because we have the resources to expose the truth on any number of subjects, and a curse because that same truth becomes hidden behind an endless story-telling that continues to propagate this sense of false-knowing. When we tell stories to justify our choices those stories are never challenged. Unless we are lucky enough to learn firsthand the err of our ways. And like a house of cards it all comes down.
The truth is that most of us will never possess the type of first hand knowledge needed to whip us into the state of conflict the world is in today. Instead we will be told a series of stories. These stories will create in us a narrative that becomes so redundant that we find ourselves adopting it as truth, and when that happens we will act as though from a place of knowing. We will find ourselves spewing racial slurs, applauding airstrikes that kill unarmed women and children, and backing the atrocious and unjustifiable actions of government that miraculously coincide with these stories.
People kill each other over thousands of things. Differences being at the top of the list. Religion is just one of the differences we’ve been taught to focus on and exploit. This type of divisive thinking is propagated intentionally to destabilize and excite the social atmosphere. It creates a dynamic pool of potential human energy. It is then culled by those who know how. Emotionally charged people who believe they are justified in how they feel are easily funneled… to buy… to vote… to kill, to go to war or to motivate in whichever way is presented as the best course of action. The same tactics that where used to condition and create a jihadist overseas where used to whip up nationalist fervor during the rise of the Nazi party, and these same tactics are employed on the American people through mainstream media.
Whether you’re an Atheist or Believer, Catholic or Protestant, Sunni or Shia, Democrat or Republican, Conservative or Liberalist, Cop or Civilian, Black or White, it matters not; it’s whether or not you are trapped in patterns of divisive thinking that keep you believing you are ‘righteous’ and that others are just … “different”.
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