Narratives are what we live by

This last 12 months the narratives that have stood us in good stead for many a long year, have been challenged in many ways – fake news being the most virulent example.

This article by Adam Szymanski: How to Build Narrative Power and Co-Create a Just Future is prefaced on the notion that imagination is a powerful tool to free ourselves from repressive cultural narratives and social power structures.

Imagining is one of those things that children do as part of play everyday, but adults tend to limit their imagination for fear of stepping outside the norms.

In an era of outsourcing just about everything, imagination has become a product to be bought in the market place.

We need to build our imagination muscles if we are going to overcome the dominant powers of big – and sometimes not so big – private corporations who make it their business to be the ones who have all the good ideas – all we have to do is align ourselves with their ways of doing things and all will be well. No rocking the boat, no sense of being a rebel or dissenter, no questioning of the status quo. It’s much easier to conform and play their game. The trouble with this model is it leaves us being passive recipients and vulnerable to exploitation.

So whether it’s issues to do with climate (which is what Szymanski is on about) the same principles also apply to over medicalisation of end of life issues or the over indulgent commercialisation of funerals. We would do well to work up our own narrative/s – ones that serve our family and community interests. Otherwise by default we serve theirs – the privileged few. We need to disrupt the dominant narratives with ones that are more inclusive, more compassionate, more earth centred, more attuned to the circumstances at our times of need. He says:

….. construct a narrative composed of a message, a story, a narrative, and a deep narrative. While messages are ephemeral, humans connect and remember stories and narrative thanks to the basic elements of story-building. Stories make sense through the context of a narrative which ultimately proposes responsibility and action, bringing our audience into a shared vision sustaining a deeper narrative to change underlying assumptions.

The start of a new year is the perfect time to put pen to paper and write our narrative within the context of our end-of-life wishes, our funeral preferences. And let’s go the next step by adding some substance to the documents we produce – provide some guidance notes for our next of kin that includes quotes and contact lists. Build the narrative and then relate the contents to those to whom it is addressed.

All the evidence tells us that only good can come from this approach.

Read the full story here: How to build narrative power

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