My Story, Our Story

Plato is often quoted on the online grapevine as saying that those who tell the stories rule society. Sometimes it’s the world that is ruled although that seems to be a Hopi Indian saying. The real quote seems to be something along the lines of “those who hold the power tell the stories.” From the Republic apparently. I am planning to re-read this book soon, so may be able to once and for all verify where this quote comes from.

Whatever its origin or its correct formulation, story-telling is central to the human experience and undoubtedly of political importance. Example: “WWII was fought by the Allies against dictatorship and repression.” Not quite true when you subject the war and its historical context to critical scrutiny. However, it is a story which multitudes live by and is consequently one which exerts a massive influence on everyday behaviour.

And what of ‘society’ or ‘world’? Stories aren’t so much an interpretation of a society or a world. They teally are that world. They make and construct that world and stabilize it.

From a personal perspective, even if everyone subscribes to a common story, it yet remains a fact that everyone has their own story. “My life has been tragic,” “I struggled against the odds,” “I carried on a great tradition,” “We met, it was destiny,” etc …

We are all a story, we live by stories, and stories are an inherent part of the human condition. We watch TV where stories are peddled to us, we read books (fiction or non-fiction) and absorb stories, we meet others and listen to their stories, we fit all this into our own personal story. Even scientific papers are structured to tell a story. (I can hear a post-modernist thinking about telling the story of a story!)

One can then understand why media is so important. It is a medium for story telling that can reach mass groups of people instantaneously. Fame and prestige is a measure of how much people are talked about, i.e. how important are their stories. And those with the most convincing stories rule.



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