The Creative Mind: A Series on Expressing Creativity.
A Reality Conceived
How much of what you know and believe is true? Does it even matter? Would the world be better off without faith? This week’s class has led me to grand questions through quite unusual methods. The reading for this week, titled “The Legend of Peugeot” has nothing to do with cars (to my benefit). The piece is about something I have really never thought of – “believed reality”. It takes the story of one of the first firms to separate itself from its owner (legally) in Europe and turns it into a lesson on reality.
“How so?” you ask? Think of it this way – when you think of large-scale consumer brand like Tata, Target, or Whole Foods, do you think of the owner of said brand, or do you think of it as a large firm. From what I understand, people would associate the brand with the firm running it. Is the brand itself real is a question that becomes the elephant in the room. I mean there is nothing you can hold or feel that is called Whole Foods, but is the brand itself not real? It is – for legal and theoretical purposes. Me writing a lengthy paragraph questioning an abstract reality is not what I’m trying to get at. What I am trying to put forwards is, if this abstract reality is “real enough” for millions of people to believe in, then stories immediately become the world’s most important commodity. Steve Jobs weaved the story of the smart future, and billions of people around the world have bought in. Whole Foods has weaved the story of non-GMO food and millions have bought in. Fast Fashion has weaved the story where clothes are undervalued and readily replaceable. Billions have bought in. If you, for a second believe that you aren’t a stakeholder in a story someone else has weaved for you, you’re wrong. What’s currently happening is that the rich are using their power to paint a story of what success looks like, even though the picture of success needs to be personal. They have made the zenith of capitalism the picture of success even when over 90% of the world would be better off without the currently practiced version of capitalism. All of this is possible because people can weave and sell you stories that you buy into. So, as an avid consumer, I am led to question truth vs. reality, the benefit of faith, the notion that playing by the rules is a good path to take in this world.
Stories are a Weapon
I leave these questions with you – the reader to take home. I cannot answer these questions for you, because that would paint a picture of a reality that I experience, the narration of your reality would taint on the description of mine. This brings me to an even broader element, that is, the narration of this believed reality that we experience. Growing up you are taught morals and values, if you were in a school in India – chances are you had a class titled moral education with stories that taught you not to lie and weaved a story of someone who is submissive to the words of society. These tiny bits of stories you’ve learned over the years have painted what it means to be a citizen, but when you realise that you’re from the LGBTQ community, or that you’re from a community that is socially oppressed (in more ways than one), your framework of the world changes. You realise that the words of the society, or the narration of the believe reality doesn’t include your experiences, doesn’t create a space for your expression, in essence fails you. So, what’s next for those who have seen a complete shift in the world’s perspective? Well, stories can be weaved by anyone, that is what the social movement change is all about. Personal experiences are turning into encapsulating stories for communities not represented before. Fights like the abolishing of section 377 in Indian court would not have been possible if it wasn’t personal for those fighting. While stories and the narration have been used as a tool for oppression, stories have come to the rescue.
So, to conclude – it makes no sense to look for saviors or heroes in a world like ours. What we need is the ability to recognise a reality experienced by millions and use it to advantage those who don’t have the skill to. Weave stories around experienced realities, however vague they may be, because in the end humanity’s most important commodity is a story that society buys into.