Since the beginning of time, stories have captured the imagination of young and old alike. Regardless of where we are in a technological advanced first world country, or whether we find ourselves in rural farmlands stories, stories form the fabric of life that keep us connected.
Oral traditions the world over transmitted the lessons, rituals, values and celebrations through stories. This is true too of many of the world’s religions. Prior to the advances of writing and the printing press the repetition and use of stories was the only manner in which cultures sustained their teachings.
In the fast moving pace of the industrialised world, stories make their presence felt through books, television, movies and gaming. Yet when we look upon the mainstream glut of media there is little to be said about the value that much of this content adds to sustainable living. In addition, many of the environments that have been created within the world of work, have been based upon the imbalance of driving the profit motive above sustainable living; of little consideration to leaving a lasting legacy of a healthy thriving planet for the next 7 Generations. Stories in this environment have corrupted the sanctity of life and that there is enough for all.
African culture and learning thrived in right brain thinking. Transmission of teachings, communication and education occurred through visioning, trance dancing and storytelling. Traditional cultures knew how to live in a sustainable manner taking only from the earth what they needed to survive. This philosophy continues in rural areas and is still a common tradition of the San Bushman of the region. There was and for these people still is an inherent respect for the wonders of and lessons to be found in the manner in which they engage with the Earth and the creatures that cohabit within their space.
Sustainable Development as a discipline seeks to create a groundswell of responsible citizenry that has its eye on the future and the legacy that we are carving out for those that follow on after us.
The Relevance of Stories
Stories crafted and told using the content of old and the technology of the modern day bring the presence of mind, the creation of awareness and the respect for people, planet and prosperity, the very cornerstones of sustainable living. Stories engage the imagination; invoke emotion and a real sense of connectedness and togetherness. The language of stories, alter and influence the way in which we think, act, speak and engage with our world and each other. They communicate beliefs, values – the legacy that we have to pass on to the world.
Stories are told regardless of whether we craft them or not. By our very nature we are social beings. Our children are told stories at bed time; stories are told at social events and occasions – who can ever forget the fishermen’s stories of “the one that got away”; the story of the miracle of the birth of a child; of the innocence of a child as he embellishes on the wonders that have filled his day? Our newspapers and magazines are also filled with stories of corruption, of use and abuse of people and resources and of exploitation.
So, what would our world be like were we to revert back to the stories of old that contained ancient teachings, common threads in the fabric of diversity that is all the more richer because of difference? What difference would we make to people of our country and continent by bringing back into everyday living the rich colourful stories of our ancestors; of giving our children their heritage back? What impact would this make in a consumption driven world to the manner in which we treat ourselves; each other and our planet?
Stories and Sustainable Development:
When focusing on the people aspects of Sustainable Living and Sustainable Development, it is stories that will form the backdrop for our way of life. We are the authors of the stories that will be told in time to come of the manner in which we lived, loved and engaged with one another and the world. Will our era in history be renowned for the destruction of the planet? Or will we be the generation that contributed to a better life for all? All will be dependent on the stories that we tell in the manner in which each of us engage in and take responsibility for our own story.
In the way of the elders and the ancestors, life is a rich kaleidoscope of offerings; of fragments that we craft together in colouful images using words to fire our imaginations of what is possible. We learn about the sanctity of life and living; celebrate the stories of those that have overcome diversity to triumph their circumstances; we deify that which sacred – life in all of its wondrous magnificence and bounty. The start of sustainable living is in the stories we tell ourselves and others.
We invite you as the authors of your own lives, that of future generations in the Spirit of creation, growth and renewal to contemplate the story that you wish to craft; the legacy that you wish to leave behind you, the contribution that you wish to add in ensuring that the planet and her people are sustained for the next 7 Generations.
The concept of 7 Generations comes from Native American Indian teachings.
“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” – From the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy
In every story we must consider the impact of our language, our speech and our legacy on the next 7 Generations. We invite you to be a part of creating a sustainable legacy for the future of our country; our people and our planet.