Human beings are a storytelling species. Stories provide the context for people to be able to filter the trillions of data that our senses take in every day, helping us to determine what we believe is important. The problem is that most people are not aware that what we call reality is, in fact, just a story. For example, The Unites States of America is just a story, for if you go into outer space and look at the earth, you will see no markings indicating where the Unites States ends and other countries begin. Money, too, is a story, for it has no inherent value. Instead, money derives its values because society agrees that it has value. Stories are how we go to war. A particular event, say 9/11, doesn’t by itself start a war. It is only when presented with the story behind the action – that it was carried out by a terrorist organization intent on taking away a way of life – that an entire country can be persuaded to support invading two foreign countries, whose people had little to do with the original event.
Each of us must become conscious of the stories we are living and choose to tell and live stories that are aligned with our values. We must ask ourselves if the stories we are living are true, meaning that they are aligned with our inner values and what we really want for our lives. And this requires us to question our interests, desires, and motivations to find out where they come from. Are they coming from a hidden desire to be liked by others or from a hidden fear you might be unaware of?
When you eat a McDonalds hamburger, what is the story that you are telling yourself about why you are doing this? Do you know where this food came from, whether or not it is healthy to eat, the manner in which it was produced, and whether your personal values and integrity are aligned with it?
When you make an investment in a stock, are the companies operating with integrity? Are they sourcing their supplies from sustainable sources? Are they paying living wages? Are they giving back to their communities, and not just maximizing their return for shareholders?
The only way the world will change and we will solve the impending crises from climate change to inequality to pollution to you name it is for each and every one of us become conscious storytellers of our lives – that is, to be aware of the stories we are acting out and choose stories that align and promote our desire for peace, fairness, equity, and all the sustainable values we hold dear.
This pillar is a place to immerse yourself in stories that embody sustainable principles and values. They all will touch our hearts and remind us all of what is really important in our lives – our relationships to others and our environment. Take some time, listen to the stories, and ask your heart if they are true.
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