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ENACTING AND TELLING THE NEW STORY

By Hazel Henderson ©2013

Marketing experts agree that widespread changes in behavior in human societies begin with new stories.  Every culture has its own creation story and these stories create its institutional arrangements and its consensual reality.

Humans are social creatures, everywhere existing in groups: families, nomadic bands, neighborhoods, communities, cities and in today’s nations and global corporations.  Each of these groups at their own levels has its story, legitimating its power relationships, rule-making, division of labor and levels of pay and rewards.

Today’s globalization of technology , mass communications, travel, migration, finance and markets brings all these groups and stories together in new ways and into today’s familiar collisions.  Cherished religious beliefs and new secular orders collide and their differing consensual realities challenge each other’s institutional arrangements.  Old stories lose their power and fail to maintain coherence and social order.

Today we see these clashing stories, cultures and the conflicts they create in all countries and regions: from the upheavals of the Arab Spring, fundamentalism in religions, uprisings of street demonstrations, revolts of unemployed young “indignados,” and the worldwide “Occupy” movements.  Civic groups and NGOs challenge corporations, their commercial marketing and exploitation of communities and nature.  Everywhere stories are clashing and consensual realities are breaking down.  Polling reveals that dominant institutions: churches, governments, corporations, even science and academia are no longer trusted while politicians are held in low repute.  Even the cleverest marketers with their carefully crafted new stories are critiqued as “greenwashing.”

Yet marketers are right: we humans do need new stories – but in today’s globalized societies with 7.5 billion members of our human family on planet Earth, we need an overarching new story about our evolutionary stage in history.

Clearly the big new story is one of cooperation – trumping the older story of competition.  How else could we humans have developed from roving bands of nomads to settled villages and agriculture, to towns and cities, corporations, nations and international agreements, treaties and the United Nations?  All this evolution was driven by cooperation, information sharing and acceptance of each other’s’ stories and cultures in an ever-larger context until finally we saw the first pictures of our precious blue planet from space.

So our new story is planetary with our species sharing our fragile biosphere with 130 other million co-evolving species, all living in the daily flow of photons from our mother star, the Sun.  Our growing understanding of our true condition on this planet is now key to our survival.  Competition is still important to drive out dysfunctional old ways, disrupt old technologies, old stories holding back new knowledge, creativity and young generations who will inherit and change our societies.  Thus the new story is about releasing human potentials, our rights and responsibilities as in the Earth Charter.

The new story is about the great transition from early Industrialism powered by digging in our Earth for fossil fuels, uranium and other minerals to looking up, learning to use the sun’s daily shower of free photons to power our societies.  This new story is of this colossal over-supply of energy – more than we will ever need and how plants learned, inventing photosynthesis to use the photons in green leaves – thus supplying all our food.

The new story is about how this planet operates on these photons captured in its atmosphere, oceans, land and in biologically diverse life forms.  We see how the Sun’s captured heat is circulated throughout in ocean currents and climate systems, as NASA’s satellites orbiting the Earth report daily.

The new story is about advancing human knowledge and the transition to today’s growing technologies of efficiency in using water, materials, and energy based on Life’s Principles that have successfully brought us to this new stage in human evolution.  The new story is about how the advancing technologies of solar, wind, waves, rivers, geothermal power combined with new methods of production and assembly are now taking over and disruption old polluting, unsustainable industries.  This new story is about the politics of this new Solar Age, emerging in every country and expressed at the UN Summit Rio+20 where 191 countries pledged to accelerate progress toward more inclusive, equitable, sustainable green economies.

Marketers are now helping tell the new story in many new ad campaigns both for profit-making, client’s companies and non-profit civic groups and NGOs.  Many of these campaigns are winners of the EthicMark® Awards for Advertising Uplifting Potentials for Our Human Future.

The new story is also revealing the long-held secret that old patriarchal structures are failing as we see the pathetic strutting of their politicians and corporate leaders.  Still based on competition, they try to command and control, hoarding information and the mysteries of money-creation and credit-allocation in their global casino.  We now see the failure of patriarchal economics which ignores women’s unpaid work in households, child-rearing, elder-care and communities as “un-economic.”

The new story is about rebalancing the roles of men and women.  Grandmothers wield power in many cultures and often tell more relevant stories about humans and our place in the biosphere than today’s so-called leaders in politics and business.  The new story is about women stepping forth as leaders after 6000 years of patriarchy.  No longer leading from behind the scenes, within the Kabuki theater of their male partners, the pillow talk manipulations and role-playing as adoring subordinates.  Today women are losing their ancient fear of being less lovable when leading.  The times require women to step out of the closet, take charge when clearly necessary and write the rest of the new story: daring to care, to heal, to nurture the birth of the next stage of the human story: as planetary citizens.