There are nearly three hundred people from fifty countries meeting at Findhorn this week to explore and articulate the ‘new story’ for our times. The impetus for a new story comes in part from Thomas Berry, who wrote that modern humanity’s fate is to be “between stories”: old story of who we are and the origins of life no longer serves us, and yet a new story has not yet been clearly articulated.
We have listened to presentations and engaged in intensive discussions, as well as singing and dancing as we build our temporary community for the week of this summit. Now on day three there is a pause for reflection. So what is “The new story”? I will attempt here to collect my own thoughts, hopefully in doing so reflective at least some of the lively discussions that have taken place.
Two things seems to be clearly emerging: there is not one “new story” but a multitude of different stories weaving together–maybe it is better to speak of a “new storying” than a “new story”. And this storying is not simply “new”, but ancient and yet emerging in a expression appropriate for our times. Several participants have pointed out that the notion that there might be one, new (and presumably better) story is a feature of the “old story” of the western world–the dominant assumption that there is one truth, now seen as formulated in a materialist world view, but deriving strongly from monotheism (I find the words of the hymn I sang in my childhood running through my head: One Church, One Faith, One Lord). I pick up a strong feeling that we must be continually alert to casting our vision of a “new story” into the mould of the old.
An important part of this emerging storying is an account of our origins. We learn from cosmology and evolutionary biology to see the cosmos as a process of unfolding, a space in which increasingly complex forms emerge. Taking this view, it becomes evident that since sentience and reflective consciousness emerged through the evolutionary process, these must be fundamental dimensions of the story: there can be no split between spirit and matter. We can further see that collaboration and community are every bit as fundamental as competition, maybe more so.
All suggests an emerging old and new story of interbeing replacing the old western story in separateness and individuality: We humans are all part of the whole and so part of each other, part of the web of life, of the community of beings here on Earth. Anthropocentrism is old story: rather, an ecological vision that honours and values the existence of all beings is central to the new storying. That we so often fail to realize (real-ize) this might be seen as a falling from grace, an original sin, or more positively and creatively, the lesson we are challenged to continually re-learn. The new storying may well be best seen as a continual process of mutual inquiry.
How we manifest this emerging storying in everyday life, in our communities, our economics, our politics, our spirituality; how it manifests in the ways we clothe and feed ourselves and our families, address our relations with each other and the more than human world, that is less clear. Again, it seems clear that there is no one right or dominant way, and that we need to find a way toward a radical pluralism in our conduct together. We have three more days to explore these themes, some of which are more salient for some participants than others.
So that is as far as I have got. In some ways these feel like important learnings; in other ways this all feels rather obvious. I am continually challenged to let go of my need to be right and to open myself to different views and values. I suspect others here feel that same.