Our Narratives

26 Apr 2022 02:49 #367735 by Alethea Thompson
(not really sure which discussion board this fits, if someone on the council thinks it fits better elsewhere, feel free to move it :) )

Words are powerful. There have been some recent events that have caused me to contemplate just how much respect I give to words themselves.

When I strung together the biography of Tumatuenga/Ku in “The Story of Tumatuenga/Ku”, there was something I wrote into the narrative that I didn’t think too heavily on. At first, it just made sense to use this very small tool in order to explain how you could get a god that went from warred with his brother (Tane/Kane) to being a god which stood next to him as a brother should (as it wasn’t in my biography, you can read that legend here - tinyurl.com/mddjx52d ).

The tool was simple- that the reason Tumatuenga became a better person, was because the Hawaiian Narrative was that he was a good person. And that the reason he relapsed, was because Pa’ao did his best to reverse the narrative. In this version of events, the Hawaiian’s uniquely preserved the good and the bad about their akua Ku, which gave him an opening to become the god they believed him to be- rather than the god he had been.

It’s such a simple literary tool, that it can almost be glossed over in terms of reality. However, I think it would be a mistake to do so. I’ve been really thinking on this subject, and it’s an incredibly powerful tool that seems to be echoed throughout history. Since at least Egypt, we’ve known that there is great power in words. To the point that preserving them in writing became a sacred method of achieving immorality. Many modern Pagan traditions speak of the power that words have in creating reality. And the New Age meditation techniques which focus on affirmations have proven their worth as psychological tools that can be accessed to achieve transformation and/or acceptance.

But what about when we speak of others? That’s what brought me to this contemplation in the first place. Just as Tumatuenga’s story was greatly impacted by a new narrative about who he was, could that have resounding impact on people around us? Not just in terms of personality, but also in terms of bolstering a person’s ability to overcome their illness?

Let me pull you to the concept of “Integrity”. It is addressed two times in the Temple of the Jedi Order’s Doctrine- though for the purposes of this discussion, I want to draw your attention to one particular sentence used to describe it: “We are authentic to what we believe and are open, honest and true to our purpose and our minds.” (16 Teachings). Emphasis mine.

The Jedi Compass states that it is important for Jedi to maintain their integrity, “knowing that what they do when no one is looking is just as important, if not more, as what they do when people are looking” (this also happens to be part of the definition of Integrity in the US Army Values).

For me, these two (three) different writings of Integrity speak to the way that we think, just as much as what we do. Narratives go much further than just the words we speak, they have a wide scale impact. They affect action.

In Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, we see that as words spread they create how society interacts with people. In the real world, we see can see the horrors such things unleash - Genocides come to mind as the largest scale, but on the smaller scale it can be bullying in school or at work.

An individual can keep their thoughts to themselves, but if there is hatred in their heart it can manifest as hatred towards undeserving victims. People who hold tightly to their religious convictions but don’t express such things publicly may eventually manifest their rejection of others in small acts- like denying a couple their wedding cake.

What starts in the mind, is likely to come out later as actions.

But this isn’t the only way things manifest. They can also manifest by making or breaking another person. I’m sure you’ve heard someone say in a fit of upset something to the effect “well if that’s what they think of me, then I’ll just be that”. They give up on being/becoming a better person, and instead just fall apart. The narrative that no one believes in you, or even the idea that not enough people believe in you, can be debilitating. It hinders growth.

On the other hand, one of the beauties of positive reinforcement is that it gives people a fighting chance to want to achieve better for themselves. To believe that they can have a brighter future.

I think this also has some greater implications when it comes to how we look at diseases. There are times when our outlook on someone’s situation can increase or decrease their chances of survival. Our narratives of their situation can transform how we interact with them. It can affect their own mentality towards the situation, giving them permission to give up, or inspiration to keep fighting.

Of course, that isn’t to say that everyone will be impacted the same way. Some people just have their own wills, and are stubbornly attached to them. Our narratives don’t have to enable poor outcomes, or create toxic environments in the hopes that someone will change. There is a balance to be struck, knowing when to let go and let live.

I think that’s possibly where we can take some notes from the Hawaiians within the setting I built (I do not claim that the story is an accurate representation of how true ancient Hawaiians perceived things, just to make that clear)- by removing the person from their midst and getting rid of the narrative, we erase the damage that both the person did; as well as erase our ability to prevent their growth into a better person.

The reason that Ku’s story was so different amongst the (fictional) Hawaiians from other Polynesian cultures wasn’t because the Hawaiian People never knew about his war with his brothers. In fact, we have to remember that these people were descendants of immigrants from the Polynesian islands. And in waves. Rather, the reason the story was different, was because the people decided to build their own narrative of what had happened. This not only stood as a basis for building a stronger and more compassionate society on the islands, but it also served as the foundation of Tumatuenga’s redemption generations after the Hawaiian society had already been established.

Gather at the River,
Setanaoko Oceana
The following user(s) said Thank You: Adder, River

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