We started the New Story Festival because creativity, community and the common good are better than sterility, separation, and selfishness. We’re all familiar with Gandhi’s simple and brilliant invitation to
Be the change that you wish to see in the world.
But that’s more than a nice idea - it’s a truth about our reality: the world doesn’t have to wait for the story - or the rules - to change before it does. Instead, we can bend the rules (especially the unjust ones), and experiment with a new story before we’re even sure where it might lead.
In imagining just what it means to say that the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better, there are three practical steps we want to suggest. You might want to try one of these steps each day, and after three days, try one again!
1: Everyone has a part to play in the new story - when you meet someone you don’t know, perhaps at the checkout or on the bus, or in a parking lot or at the gym, try to imagine them being part of the new story of creativity, community, and the common good. If you get the chance to say hello, talk to them while imagining that although you may never see each other again, you’re part of an immeasurably huge “Us”, not “Them”.
2: We are invited to step beyond fear and separation into enacting hope and connection - consider stepping away from fast-moving media sources, even for one day each week, especially TV news, and online sources that are constantly updated. Instead, consider a project to care for or renew local community and ecosystems - volunteer at a soup kitchen, or a neighborhood cleanup - what matters is to be physically present with other folk doing good in the world.
3: Nobody knows what's going to happen tomorrow - so let us live the world we want to see today… - all the great wisdom traditions invite us not to worry about tomorrow, for today has enough problems of its own. Better than that - they also suggest that loving ourselves is as important as loving our neighbors. So consider the following practice: every time something fearful comes to mind, name out loud five things for which you are grateful. And see what happens.
There are, of course, thousands of ways to live the New Story - the three above are just the ones I’m thinking about today. I’m so delighted that we’ll get the chance to discuss, experiment with, and live the New Story together in just a couple of weeks. If you haven’t registered yet, now is the time to do so - there are plenty of options to make the festival widely accessible at a range of ticket prices; you can come for an evening, a day, or the full three day celebration of community, spirituality, and social action.