Myths are stories that hold a sense of truth and history in them and provide an explanation of a world-view of a group of people. These may include parables or moral stories about how to act in the world.
Wisdom is that information, accumulated knowledge, or enlightenment that gives us insight, strength and assistance in moving through difficult decisions and adversity.
Myths can hold wisdom.
Seeing through false myths – whose information is not true, or wise, is part and parcel to the work in parenting and our own psychosocial development.
Challenging the myths that are second nature to you, that you have swallowed whole from your own childhood or upbringing is the hardest part of adulthood.
These are often wrapped in little phrases that you say absent-mindedly.
Here is an example: No good deed goes unpunished.
The myth is that if you do something kind then you will pay a price for your kindness. How do you think this came to be and what is it trying to teach? Does this result in a person feeling more connected to a group or separate from one and which is more useful?
Myths and wisdom provide us with tools to help us navigate life effectively and with a sense of strength. But they also have a sociological connection.
You see this with how people view political parties. Myth can be see as fact rather than a story, just like prejudice – pre-judging.
There is an element of prejudice in each action we take. For those of us who strive to live our lives without prejudice this is a difficult thing to accept.
Many years ago, in an art support group, I heard a fellow colleague discuss this. I was astonished by the concept – I am not prejudiced – look at the array of friends I have from different races, countries, religious backgrounds – I am not prejudiced I reacted vehemently – she calmly responded that we all are – we have to be to make decisions in the world.
The work is not to relieve your self of every prejudice – it is to understand and own those you have, so that you can mindfully make a choice about how you want to be in the here and now, in each present, unique situation.
It took me years to understand her point, years of maturing and practicing mindfulness; years of accepting real responsibility for my choices, actions and beliefs; years of focusing my energy on acting in a congruent way in the world.
She is an extraordinary woman – she knew this 25 years ago as a young person, many do not understand themselves even now and so act in abhorrent ways while calling themselves righteous.
Acting congruently means that if you want the world to be tolerant you cannot respond to intolerance with hate – Being congruent is acting in ways that are consistent with what you espouse as your beliefs.
Understanding the wisdom that is held in the myths we hold true is a dynamic and ongoing process.
The more we can listen to the words we use, and act in a congruent way, the more we can act in a way that uses the wisdom of our myths.
See you tomorrow.
October 26, 2010 at 4:26 pm
A great point about prejudice. We are never going to totally get rid of our prejudices, but we need to realize what they are so that they don’t unconsciously cause us to act in ways that would be harmful or stupid.