Words don’t begin to
But then that’s all we’ve got. Words, and the stories we weave of them.
I’ve been wondering about this in connection with the study I’m putting together for my MSc. I’m asking pairs of friends who are also parents to record a conversation about climate change, how they feel it may affect the lives of their children, and what if anything they feel they should do about it.
I’m not sure we’ve got a language yet for dealing with these questions. It seems we don’t have the stories we need that would help us navigate this terrain.
A good story is seasoned by centuries of telling and retelling. It is something that evolves over eons, like an ancient, underground organism. It grows from the land as much from the people who live there. It tells of the present and future because it draws on a deep past.
There’s reassurance and certainty in stories that hum with that subterranean pulse. Stories which speak to us from deep time. Reassurance for the children, and wisdom for us all.
But over the past few centuries and especially in the past few decades, the pace of change in our habitat has accelerated off the scale. And the stories we tell can’t keep up. There isn’t time for the right stories to bud, and grow, and lay down roots.
Today we entertain, amaze , infantalize or terrorize each other with the stories we tell, but we look in vain to them for guidance. What use all those heroes and villains, star-crossed lovers, spoiled rich folk, neurotic loners, materialist teens, winning teams etc etc, in a world where deep time itself seems to have been trampled?
What I really want to know is: how do we brace for the changes ahead? What on earth do we tell the kids?
There’s some information about my study on Twitter @cmacdonald777 and I’m actively looking for people to take part, so if you’re interested please have a look and get in touch – thanks!