Evolutionary biology, social change activism, spiritual experience, comic art, mythology, psychology, business, anthropology and food are perhaps the passions that have most informed my way of looking at the world. All come into play when I work as an activist focused on encouraging social change. One of the most frequently emerging personal paradigms that explains my relationships with my fellow activists, and my understanding of myself, is how I understand the relationship between mythology and psychology.

In a previous posting, I noted the multilayered nature of the evolutionary dynamic called neoteny and how a biological process can impact evolution on multiple levels. I explained how neoteny might operate on a molecular, species and societal level, providing an activist with levers for encouraging social change.

There are other multilevel processes in play that impact both the world and us, the players on that 6-billion-person stage. The most subtle and powerful process of them all is our compulsion to tell and live inside a story.

Two of the different scales of the stories we hear/tell keep hitting me with remarkable frequency. At the level of culture, one narrative unfolds. And there is a second level where we speak with the voice inside our head. We read from stories or scripts that patch our personality together. Culture or character, the two are intimately related.

Many of my colleagues at protests, talks and meetings are there because those deep transactional analysis psychotherapeutic scripts drive them to be present at an event that supports their personal, very personal, world view. This is true for me. One of my scripts is to feel not understood and very different from those around me. I use that experience to tell myself that I’m special in my separateness. It makes it a challenge for others to form close bonds with me. Intimacy doesn’t fit into my script. At the same time, I feel compelled to make connections between people (as opposed to feeling connection with people). The irony does not escape me.

While talking and interacting with other activists, I find that their scripts often jump into our conversations. I feel I’m facing their personal story, their own myth, both their shield from the world and their reason for being. They animatedly tell me of a strong feeling relating to political/social events, and I don’t hear their words. So much of what we say to each other is not the words we say but the stories behind the words. Often when I see a person driven to say something, I see the driven, not the something.

I’m with Jung. That thing he calls the collective unconscious has a mind of its own–our mind. I’m not talking about the media, though the media offer some opportunities to view the captions to the pictures that accompany this larger Zeitgeist narrative. I’m talking about that massive body and soul fable with a rhythm that drives the giant dance that lumbers from one century to the next. We are part of the mind that writes the story and song that we use to bind us all together. Six billion of us around the campfire–no one there we haven’t known our whole life–telling the stories we’ve all heard from before the words had meaning.

I believe the world we have is the world that we have created. Horrible sacrifices are made to provide the story impact. Our leaders, especially our leaders, are puppets in this theatre of myth–“myth” being the stories made to explain what can’t be said with words. Right now, our leaders are helping us compose a cautionary tale to be told for tens of thousands of years. This story is called “Standing at the Abyss.”

Personal script or cultural myth–the stories inform, explain and protect us from things like too much intimacy, too little intimacy, connectedness, separateness and an understanding of their relationship. As an activist, I seek stories. Not just the stories of my friends. I seek the story we are all telling together as the fire crackles, and we are unable to see into the night.


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