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Why Storytellers are the Most Powerful People on Earth

Our entire lives are governed by stories. From the idea that certain pieces of paper are worth “$20” to the belief that to live a good life one must follow their passions, the stories we believe shape the course of our lives.

Humans have harnessed this power to co-operate in large numbers and create ordered communities governed by a common set of beliefs and inter-subjective reality. The most obvious example of this is global capitalism. We universally are told to believe in a system of ‘credit’ and that by imagining coins and paper as having real value they can be exchanged for tangible goods. We are also told to believe in brands called “Google” and “Starbucks”, countries called “France” and “India” – beliefs that have such an overarching influence on our lives we tend to forget they are the product of human storytelling rather than scientifically discovered objective facts.

As individuals we are bound hand and foot by these inter-subjective realities. If you wish to disagree and not believe in money or government you won’t get very far. The only way to break free from such entrenched beliefs is to convince people on a mass scale to think differently. The most common way of doing this is by telling new stories.

From Jesus to Karl Marx, compelling storytellers have been able to shape and influence the direction of human history. Hundreds of millions of lives have been affected both for the good and bad by the beliefs and ideas of certain individuals.

It can be disorientating to think just how powerful these stories are. Yet it’s crucially important and relevant that we understand the story of planet earth we are all apart of.  In the face of global challenges such as climate change, artificial intelligence and nuclear weaponry in the hands of man-children, most people feel they are at best unimportant extras in this precarious story of the twenty first century’s fragile fight for its collective future.

Powerlessness is also a result of the ruthless individualism and isolation which is at the heart of our fundamentalist beliefs in the modern economic system. The most powerful way we can counter these feelings and pave the way for change is to begin to tell better and more optimistic stories about what the future for humans could look like.

It won’t be the politicians, the engineers nor the scientists who will solve the crises the world faces today but the storytellers who give them the reasons why.

 

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12 comments on “Why Storytellers are the Most Powerful People on Earth

  1. I agree. Stories are powerful, which is exactly why I write. Great post and cool blog. I’m excited to check it out more in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Why Storytellers are the Most Powerful People on Earth – The Conversation Room – leftwingnobody

  3. I remember an article in the Economist years ago that said: in economics, the theories that win are the ones that tell the best stories. It could also be true of science in general, although many of the stories may be told in the language of mathematics. Here’s an article on storytelling in economics that might interest you. http://www.deirdremccloskey.com/docs/pdf/Article_125.pdf

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Paul Randall

    what a refreshing essay !

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dude you nailed it. Perceptions of past and future are always susceptible to change based on what we’re told to believe. If we are told positive beliefs, we live a more positive life. Good article man!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a fantastic look into the power of stories, I enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great read! I love telling stories as well as hearing them.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is an amazing post.
    Stories shape our past, present and future. And they also shape us and everyone around us. I love your take on subjective realities and perceptions.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hey! That was a good read. You could check out the book called ‘ Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Harari for more on the power of story telling.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. They are the product of human storytelling rather than scientifically discovered objective facts.
    Mm. I love that, love this post. Extremely insightful. I wonder how storytelling will change once engineers program “creativity” in artificial intelligence. Programs will then be telling stories for us, or the stories will be indiscernable whether one came from a human or not

    Liked by 1 person

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