America needs a new story. And fast.
American mythologist, Michael Meade, through his numerous books and his Living Myth podcast, calls us into a rich and poetic courtship of higher purpose, and implores us to reweave the American Myth. He roots us in this moment in time, what he believes to be a quickening, a kairos, when all of reality is happening in an instant.
It’s not that school shootings, incompetent leaders, environmental disasters, gutting the social safety net, political corruption, resource imperialism, market royalism, racism, police brutality, rape culture, islamophobia and transphobia are new things. As Umair Haque has explored in countless Medium articles, they are not.
However, like alchemists, we are now peering into the heated cauldron of the American myth and witnessing the dissolution, seeing the toxic elements separate themselves from the noble ones, e.g., Women’s Marches, entrepreneurship, Black Panther, Emma Gonzales, National Parks, IssueOne.org, etc. As Meade illuminates in his 2016 book, The Genius Myth, this kairos, is political, economic and psychosomatic, calling us fully into the outer drama, as a context to reveal our higher purpose, heal our inner dramas, create a new mythos and transform ourselves collectively in its image.
“It is on the ground of uncertainty and in the face of the unknown that the inner story of our souls becomes most pertinent and important. The soul requires an outer drama so that it can reveal its full imagination for life and its inner myth… When the story of the world becomes less clear, it is the unfolding of the inner life of the soul that might provide the best way to proceed.” (p.5)
It’s not just about fighting, resisting and marching. It’s not just about the thousands of initiatives, conscious enterprises and political movements being launched in response to the outer drama, as Paul Hawken explored in Blessed Unrest. This kairos also requires us to step back, witness the whole landscape, gather the vital elements of the myth, and allow for a new story to emerge. Meade continues,
“In order for things to truly change, the tension of the opposites must intensify and be tolerated long enough for a third energy to appear. The bird of good omen must emerge in the midst of all the tension and opposition just long enough to reveal the hidden patterns and motivations of the clashing forces. Then, in the moment of revelation everything must be risked at once and everyone must somehow pull together or else the dilemma will return and likely do so at a deeper level.” (p. 56)
In this risk-it-all kairos, our task is three-fold:
- Heal and awaken ourselves — engage in transformative, contemplative and healing modalities to free ourselves from the multitude of ways in which we as individuals have been traumatized by the toxicity of the current culture and myth, e.g., through therapy, men’s and women’s work, and launch ourselves into the fullness of our higher purpose, e.g., through purpose discovery work, vision quests, medicine ceremonies.
- Relish in the dynamic tension — continue to tease out the alchemy of this kairos, to speak truth to power, to make noise and scream “THE KIDS ARE NOT ALRIGHT”, to march against the toxicity, and also celebrate the noble elements, to shine a light on all that is creating a new world.
- Craft the narrative — spend an equal amount of time telling a story of our future that is larger, more abundant, just, sustainable, peaceful, creative and inspiring than the prevailing myths, while including all of their contributions: technotopia, socialism, free market fundamentalism, and back-to-the-land homesteading.
This third task is what is most needed right now. We need new stories of how all this plays out for America, how we can reclaim nobility of the human heart in our careers, families, communities, watersheds and public life, while losing nothing of value from our most recent chapter of intellectual, technological, industrial and social progress.
What kind of country would we create if we started from scratch? Imagine a country where every child is safe, well-fed, loved, mentored and has the freedom to pursue their passions and purpose. Imagine an economy where each person is amply rewarded for making their highest and most authentic contribution. Imagine an economy that is socially connective and ecologically regenerative. Imagine an electoral and legislative process that is meritocratic, efficient and integrous, that preserves and celebrates the diversity of thought. Imagine a restorative justice system (vs. punitive) that heals the personal and collective wounds involved in every crime and rejoices in the transformation, reintegration and fullest contribution of every member of society.
Imagine a healthcare system that focuses on wellness, that nurtures the full and whole expression of every citizen. Imagine an education system that makes learning fun, personalized and creative. Imagine local communities and towns reborn from a collective purpose that nurture health, safety, connection, sustainability, diversity, equality, creativity, civil discourse and entrepreneurship. Imagine a culture of purpose-driven adults, each alive with power, hope and creativity, each firm in their stand for their families, communities, companies and a better world. Imagine a peacekeeping force of initiated adults that never fires a bullet or drops a bomb, that only builds infrastructure and only leaves American soil when requested by other peoples and with the full consent of every servicemember involved.
I articulated one version of this new US story in my upcoming book, Planet on Purpose, but I am only one voice. I want to hear yours. It is needed. Please share your version of a new US story in whatever format you are called, e.g., essays, videos, songs, pictures, with us via social media and tag it with #newUSstory.
About the Author
Brandon earned his MBA from Columbia and worked with start-ups and social enterprises for 15 years before doing his own purpose work and becoming a Certified Purpose GuideTM. He is the co-author of Purpose Rising (2017, with Ken Wilber, Duane Elgin, Terry Patten, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Dustin DiPerna, Bill Plotkin and many others) and author of Planet on Purpose (2018). Brandon works with leaders and executive teams from Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Morgan Stanley and Google. He has lectured on Purpose Discovery at the University of California, Berkeley, Northern Arizona University, The Institute of Noetic Sciences and the California College of the Arts. Click here for more information about him and his work.