The Story Behind our Stories
By : Burt Kempner (StoryWorlds / Peaceful Warrior art by Cynthea LaGrou)

This applies on both a personal and a societal level. Think of the limiting stories our culture has handed down to us. Consider how they have prevented us from becoming all that we already are.

We've been told that humankind has dominion over the entire Earth, that we are the peak, the end-all and the be-all, of creation. That particular belief has brought us to the edge of physical, emotional and spiritual extinction. Time for a new story, wouldn't you say? How about one that teaches that all living things are tightly interconnected and what happens to one happens to all?

We've learned that war is our natural part heritage and will never be abolished. That's not a truism, that's an excuse. We may not be able to eliminate armed conflict completely, but we do have the power within us to make sure that it's the very last resort instead of our first choice. There are dozens of little-heralded, low-cost programs under the aegis of the United Nations that are having exactly that effect in war-torn parts of the world. It isn't a lack of will that results in conflict; it's a lack of imagination.

From our school days we are taught that competition is the natural order of things. It's a dog-eat-dog world, nice guys finish last and they who end up with the most toys win. And we wonder why our souls rot from within. The fact is, history shows that groups that cooperated survived while those creed was "every man and woman for themselves" winked out. People who insist that caring and compassion will never be our guiding principles are clinging to an outmoded paradigm. Caring and compassion will not only guide us but save us as well.

This is the story behind our stories. We have it in our power to change our collective narrative, one soul at a time. We have it in our power to become the authors of a beautiful and meaningful new story. We have it in our power to discover our inborn courage and use it to take those all-important first steps toward, in the words of Charles Eisenstein, "the more beautiful world we know in our hearts is possible."

I urge you with all my being not to be taken in by the doomsayers and panic-mongers. There is still time to step into the role of hero. There is greatness available for the taking. A voice whispers inside each of us, telling us that this is very true. An acquaintance and I were discussing the sorry state of the world the other night. He's convinced that any efforts at redemption, personal or planetary, will amount to too little, too late. A lifelong optimist (though I have considered all the facts), I'd prefer to leave you instead with the words of Tennyson:

"The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep moans round with many voices. Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world."

Burt Kempner is an award-winning storyteller whose work has appeared on PBS, the Discovery Channel, ESPN, CNBC, the History Channel and European television, among other venues.He specializes in broadcast documentary, environmental, travel, educational and nonprofit programming, as well as features and shorts. Burt is founder ofRealLIfe Scripts - using genuine film storyboards, he works with groups and individuals to plot out the story arc of their lives, see what would happen in the future, and, finally, come up with a new scenario in which participants make concrete, realistic and meaningful changes to truly become the hero of their own story. The premise is simple: change your script, change your life.
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