I know its a bit of a click-bait title, but the recent media coverage of this tragedy has underscored a personal theme I’d like to talk about. I don’t know if y’all will agree, or even understand, but I’m overdue for our monthly ‘peek into the mind of Author Russ Viola’ session anyway.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
So here goes:
I’m a firm believer in the power of Stories.
Over the past week or so, I have been bombarded by coverage of the latest bombings. The usual circus and whole gamut of human drama. Sitting here in this writing nook, clicking away at my keyboard, listening to the news drone on in the background, I started to ask myself some of the same questions I’ve asked myself throughout my life, but this time, framing them in a more global way.
I mean, I wouldn’t mind this guy telling me a story around the campfire at Samhain, but coming into my livingroom and selling that shit as reality? Does that seem right to you?
Same guy, really, but too many people actually believe this one.
In the name of keeping informed, are we telling ourselves the wrong stories?
Stories open doors for humanity. Now, I’m not talking metaphorically here. Just think of how many sci-fi tales have influenced our technology. If it weren’t for the dream weavers of our past, we wouldn’t have many of the gizmos and gadgets available today. Those stories gave our technicians and scientists permission to think outside the current box they were living and working in. Either through our Jungian collective unconscious, or through direct inspiration, tales of wonder have pushed humanity to achieve what was thought impossible by our forefathers.
If we can exceed all expectations for good, we can do the same for evil.
I’m not advocating ignorance. I’m counselling caution. When done correctly or simply with enough force and repetition, storytelling is powerful and the people we give that power to, specifically our media, have shown with their actions that they can and will continue to consistently abuse that power.
Warning: The storyteller in that box sitting in your living room is Grimm and they are doing as much to weave these fairy tales of horror into reality as the perpetrators they talk about.
But we let them.
It is well documented how language effects reality. Because if the vocabulary doesn’t exist in your dictionary, to a greater or less degree it doesn’t exist in your reality. I’m not talking literal here, so don’t get me wrong. If you’ve never experienced a gun, if it’s not in your reality, your personal dictionary, I’m pretty sure it can still kill you.
I’m talking about humans, and when it comes to our understanding of a thing and our ability to achieve it.
Horror or hero, disaster or discovery, our words…the story’s we tell…give us permission to exceed all previous expectations, for peace or violence.
The stories we tell ourselves and each other, give us ideas, give us inspiration, give us license.
Do we really want that power focused on the worst that humanity can achieve?
Remember, I’m not advocating ignorance. I’m counselling caution.
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