A New Story

The globalization of food culture, media images that perpetrate an industrial diet, the cultural narrative that holds agricultural work as lowly, the financial system that pushes farmers toward commodity crop production, regulations that take existing agricultural practices for granted, and the pecuniary interests of seed and pesticide companies all contribute to the agricultural status quo. The very notion of a uniform crop growing on a controlled substrate draws from scientific paradigms of a generic material substrate of uniform elements upon which we impose order and design.

That’s a lot of stories, layer upon layer, that have to change. Thus I say that our revolution must go all the way to the bottom, all the way down to our basic understanding of self and world. We will not survive as a species through more of the same: better breeds of corn, better pesticides, the extension of control to the genetic and molecular level. We need to enter a fundamentally different story. That is why an activist will inevitably find herself working on the level of story. She will find that in addition to addressing immediate needs, even the most practical, hands-on actions are telling a story. They come from and contribute to a new Story of the World.

Charles Eisenstein
from The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible

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20 comments on “A New Story

  1. Joanna says:

    What a great and inspiring quote, thanks for that

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  2. Bill, I always have difficulty plowing through the deep meaningful writing of educated writers but I managed to glean the powerful message from Charles. I would say, in my very humble opinion, though that we are not telling a new story to the world but instead returning to an old story.

    I’ve been reading through the old Firefox series that I found while cleaning out my basement. In those books there are many stories from folks that were 80 plus years old. They talk about how the world is changing; how people don’t have time for relationships with each other; how culture has changed into a busy schedule; how people feel the need for more and better stuff. Sound familiar? The Foxfire books were written starting in the early 1970s. Forty years later we have the same issues with us only they are now more high tech.

    Have a great food education story day.

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    • Bill says:

      I think you’re right Dave. When I saw him speak Eisenstein said that the new story we’re living into is also the ancient story.

      The pace of the world seems to get increasingly faster. But now there are movements aimed at slowing things down. Hopefully they’ll continue to get traction.

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  3. avwalters says:

    I was once accused of living a 19th Century life in a 20th Century world. I had to defend myself. After all, what was wrong with a vibrant organic garden in the middle of the city? Why was is so strange that I did my sewing on a turn-of-the-century treadle machine?
    Now that it’s the 21st Century, I’m seeing that my take on the world, living lightly on the planet, isn’t regressive, it’s progressive. Spread the word, we need more of what you’re writing.

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks. It is fascinating to me that over the past decade or so we’ve seen things like the rise in popularity of urban homesteading, backyard chickens, farmers markets, etc., which signal (in my opinion) that we’re getting over our cultural bias against farming and homesteading. I’m hoping it’s evidence of an even broader movement toward simplicity, sustainability and slowness.

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  4. Jeff says:

    “Thus I say that our revolution must go all the way to the bottom, all the way down to our basic understanding of self and world.”

    My apologies to Nebraska Dave, but the story being told in the Firefox series was no different than the story being told today: nature exists for the exploitation of humankind. That is why the National Forests in the Appalachian area were able to be established: the land had been clear-cut, the hills were eroding into the creeks, elk, wolves, and buffalo had been exterminated and bears and deer were hard to find. The Foxfire series of books romanticizes the past – they do not present an accurate story. At all.

    The story that needs to be told is that everything in the world, animate and non-animate, has a right to exist. To kill or exploit anything requires asking permission, at some level, to do so. The stories need to change. Absolutely.

    Perhaps you can use this as an opportunity to tell a different Christian story.

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    • shoreacres says:

      The Christian story is the Christian story. I will grant you there are different ways to tell it, and ways to adapt the story to different cultures. Still, it is the “same old story,” whether we like it or not — which is to say it is a wholly new story.

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      • Bill says:

        I assume that by “tell a different Christian story” Jeff means to tell a Christian story that does not include what Wendell Berry calls the “death of creation.” That story needs to be replaced with a better story. The story that should replace it is very old.

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      • Jeff says:

        When you write “there are different ways to tell it”, you are saying that there are different stories. I subscribe to Yes! magazine and the introductory “From the Editor” piece in the Summer 2014 issue quotes George Gerbner:

        “… Whoever tells the stories of a culture defines the terms, the agenda, and the common issues we face.”

        That “whoever” is very important to reflect upon. Gerbner goes on to write, “[i]t [whoever] used to be the parent, the school, the church, the community. Now, it’s a handful of global conglomerates that have nothing to tell, but a great deal to sell.”

        In Christianity, it used to be small, local churches – the kinds that were written about in the Foxfire books. Now, it is mega-churches with tens of thousands of members.

        When I wrote of “a different Christian story”, I had in mind the kinds of stories told at venues like the Wild Goose Festival, among others.

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    • Bill says:

      I’ve never read any of the Foxfire books, but my understanding is that their purpose was to preserve oral histories or to capture the thoughts and memories of people of the prior generation. If all texts are subjective and a product of bias, then they won’t be any different. But I suspect, bias and all, there is plenty of wisdom in them, however inaccurate they may be.

      Everything that exists is interconnected with everything else. Harm to anything is in some sense harm to everything. What Eisenstein calls the Story of Separation denies that. He argues that we are living into a Story of Interbeing. I like that notion.

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    • Jeff, have you read the Firefox personal stories?

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      • Jeff says:

        Way back when, I read the first two or three of the Foxfire books. If the personal stories you refer to were in Foxfire 4 – 12, then, no, I didn’t read them.

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  5. EllaDee says:

    Years ago I did some counseling training and one of the skills I was given was to get in touch and ask the thoughts of my own self plus 10, 20, 30 years. And when I did I found she was a [forgiving] wise woman. Back then it was not such things as food as we are discussing now, but I know that to have that discussion with our future and past selves, they will tell us our story, they who we need to listen to, not the people who are paid by the people who profit from telling us their story of shareholder profits.

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    • Bill says:

      Those who manipulate us for profits are constantly telling us their story and constantly telling us their version of our story (which conveniently for them identifies us as beneficiaries of theirs). I agree that we need to be more discriminating in deciding whose stories to believe.

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  6. Martha Caldwell-Young says:

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  7. shoreacres says:

    “A genuine man goes to the roots. To be a radical is no more than that: to go to the roots. He who does not see things in their depth should not call himself a radical.” ~ Jose Marti, Cuban Statesman, Poet and Journalist

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