It’s Spring here at Te Ao O Nga Pukeko, usually a season of hope. New lambs gambol around their mothers, there are flowers on the olive trees, the young bulls are filling out. Daffodils have bloomed, roses smell delicious and the imperial purple irises, I love, have buds about to burst, fruit is setting on the trees. But it’s hard to feel hopeful this year, isn’t it?
The global situation is scarier than I ever remember. Stories of terrorism and retaliation fill the news… righteous indignation rules world leaders it seems and our politicians are locked into stories that claim we should work harder to make more money for GDP so that our countrie’s wealth will trickle down to the ever growing group of people in our society who live in poverty. But we, the ordinary people, know it hasn’t ever happened, nor will it. The people who benefit from the current economic policies are wealthy. Not a hopeful picture is it?
My storytelling life as you probably know, has been dedicated to finding stories of justice, hope and inspiration because I believe it’s only by changing the stories we tell ourselves that we will ever change the way the world is. I’ve been on a quest to ‘change the world, one story at a time,’ and this mission grows more and more urgent as I grow older.
I think we, in the Western World,’ are living out stories of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ or ‘King Midas’. We are told that amassing money by devoting our lives to a pursuit of the dollar will make us happy- or maybe we’ll win it by gambling on pokie machines or Lotto. We are led to believe we need designer everything, including clothes, to be successful, glamorous and important. The marketing story encourages us to strive for a ‘celebrity lifestyle.’ It isn’t easy to be an inspiring storyteller in such times without being called idealistic, romantic and or unrealistic.
So, I was heartened to read the quote that follows on Facebook the other night. I’m not sure where it came from I’m afraid, but thought I’d share it with you. It’s a philosophy thousands of years old, from Africa and it is as new and fresh as today, maybe even newer and fresher and it validates my long-held notion that given the wisdom of indigenous people all around the world, we may in time, look back at this ‘progressive,’ ‘enlightened’ era in our history as one of our biggest mistakes. So here it is….
‘UBUNTU: is a belief in a universal bond of sharing that unites all humanity- the conviction that no person can be truly full whilst his neighbor remains hungry. It presents a world view that sees humanity as a web of family, rather than a mass of individuals. This philosophy affirms that a person is a person through other people, that we are all related, interdependent and connected to each other. This is similar to what we know as compassion, compassion for ourselves, our families, our communities, the global community and the earth.’
Stories based in Ubuntu are what we need now and we do see them, don’t we? On television; as refugees are assisted and enabled, as neighbors rally around each other during natural and other disasters, Sam and the university students in Christchurch. We notice little children putting their arms around others of different colours and faiths – loving the person without judgment. We see it in the way people in even the poorest districts come out to support the Foodbank collections and share with their neighbors because they cannot be full while their neighbors starve. As I write, I’m thinking of the people who supported me to write ‘But For The Grace,’ because, as one old friend said as she wrote her cheque, ‘It’s not for you, Gaye, it’s for women under duress.’ So, it is there, that sense of us being a web of family rather than a mass of individuals.
It’s amazing how the universe provides the words I need to see/hear just when I want them because at the moment I’m consumed with a new project called: ‘Changing The World, One Story At A Time’ I’m collecting stories I’ve told in all kinds of situations, especially the transformative ones, to make a book I hope will inspire You, out there in the world and give us all hope. Whether you are a counsellor, a student or wanting to feel inspired in your daily life. At the same time, I’m preparing a performance with participation from audience members as we share our transformative moments to give each other hope. and remind ourselves as Phillip J Bailey said: ‘All who breathe mean something more to the true eye than their average shapes show; for all were made in love and made to be beloved.’ Wouldn’t it be great if You came along to one of these evenings and satisfied my curiosity – what is your story?