When societies developed their own Creation myths they went to enormous lengths to perpetuate them and build their lives around then, giving them and their leaders a stable reality rather than question the Myth and thereby undermine their Dreamworld. We in Ireland have been living in a Dreamworld that is largely a sustaining stew of old fashioned capitalist theories, disabling colonial memories, with a tad of jaded Celtic Twilight to spice it up. It is a Story that was fed to us with our mother’s milk. It is difficult to break from that story when one has been reared on it. It is a landscape littered with signs, such as “Here be dragons” and “Thou shalt not” because for so long our ancestors lived in a society where Authority, the right to exercise Power, resided in either London or Rome. It provokes great anxiety in society when the basis for that Dream is challenged. It is on a par with the mythic fear of the ancient Celtic warrior king who, when asked by Alexander the Great, was there nothing that the Celts feared, admitted after a pause, that he sometimes feared that the sky would fall on him. For each of us to question ourselves about our existence and about our way of behaving is a challenge and for most it appears to be too threatening to even imagine. “Better to brave the ills we have, than fly to other that we know not of”.
Many people who are disadvantaged by their role in prevailing Dream of Reality feel a strong need to rebel. They have two main options. The first option is to act out their rebellion while maintaining a role in the Dream World. This satisfies their need for psychic security but enables them to vent their anger. It is a futile approach but has its compensations. In the words of MacBeth:
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Many will dismiss this description as a poetic boreen, a literary device, but strangely it is an explanation that is being confirmed by modern science that is telling us that there are such things as parallel realities, that we unknowingly construct our own reality. To update that analysis, merely read the ranting and raving, the aggression, the braggadocio and the mock-heroics of the contributions on social media and imagine “Just hold me back or I will…” preceding the statements.
The alternative option they have is to create a new Story, a new Dreamworld, a new way of looking at our world and at our roles in that alternative story. The creation of that new Story is a collective work, It must start with each of us taking responsibility for our own thoughts as well as our own actions. We must then develop a new Story that describes the kind of story in which we wish to live our lives, how we should relate to one another, how we should organise our society. It will not be developed by shouting invective and obscenities at those who oppose us, by vilifying those who try to offer a thread to the new fabric of our Dreamworld. It will require us to produce a story that integrates all (and I deliberately emphasise ALL) our citizens into the one shared world of the story. It will be an act of real revolution. To bring this home, just read again the Story that the leaders of the 1916 Rising spoke about and upon which they based their insurrection. The Proclamaton of 1916 is a good summary. They were often ridiculed by those whose lives were embedded in a different Story. Their Story has been twisted and turned since the Civil War. Over recent years, the central characters and settings in the Story have been changed from “Society”, “Commmunity” and their relationship to the “Citizen” to “the Economy” and the role of the “Consumer/Customer”. Each story line built a different interpretation of what one should do, what one should think, how one should behave, and fundamentally of Who one is. In recent weeks, candidates in the general election produced manisfestoes, ostensibly promoting their versions of the Story, or of selected parts of it, in which we should live and the roles availbable to us.
The results of the election have, as it were, drawn back a part of the veil that hid the mechanics of the system, the Ghost in the Machine. The electorate is beginning to show signs that they are worried and do not like what they see. The political actors in the lead roles are dashing about, trying to repair the rift in the curtain, and pretending that nothing has really changed. But things are changed, changed utterly, and what is being laid bare is far from beautiful. The threat of the ugliness we see is such that it may terrify some, but hopefully it will give courage to others to ask “if not, why not”. As Rudyard Kipling once wrote:
“I keep six honest serving men
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who”
Before it is too late, perhaps our political leaders would introduce us to their honest, serving people and share with us their views. What’s the Story, lads? Why do you want to be our leaders? When are you going to let us share in the work of building our counrty? How will we do that together? Where will that lead us? Who am I going to be in the new Story?
Do not expect them to answer these questions now because it is clear that they are very busy doing “grown-up things” and we should wait to be told. We don’t need to wait. We have told them what we want. Let us examine, and even more importantly, let the media, acting on our behalf, help us to interpret the answers implied by their posturing, positioning, and pretence. Would that be too much to ask? Or do the media prefer the perilous security of their roles in the present Story to navigating the wilderness where we might together constuct a New Story for a Risen People? Aye, there’s the Rub!