A STORY TO LIVE BY
by Alan Nordstrom
Who tells the most compelling, the most winning story? That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? What do we really and truly know about this universe we inhabit, how we came into it, and why we’re here? Not much, despite all the amazing advances in our sciences. We know many facts and we weave ingenious theories, but we can’t see the Big Picture, so we try to satisfy our need for meaning with stories and myths, the most serviceable fictions we can contrive.
If you’re a Christian, then you have adopted “The Greatest Story Ever Told” as your representation of the Way Things Are, the hidden Truth of the universe as revealed in Holy Scripture. Yet still, this is one story among many (and even it has been told variously in different times and places). The floor is always open for a newer, better, more universally appealing story, and just now there’s plenty of jostling and jockeying going on among those who think they have a winner.
In this era of global integration, when all people are becoming citizens of the world per force and not simply peasants in remote provinces, the need grows greater for settling collectively upon a global story that makes the best sense and charms the most sensibilities with how it reckons what we’re doing here. I have one to propose, a sketch of one. With more thought it might be fleshed out and prove itself pragmythically appealing.
As I see it, the Universe is all about creativity, and as far as we know, we human beings are the grandest product of the universal creative process yet manifested.
Furthermore, it seems that our species is explicitly designed to extend the universal creative process (UCP) through our own conscious mental activities, as we have been doing with increasing vigor during the last 2000 years. We therefore might infer that human beings are specifically invested with creative urges and capacities that amount to an imperative, even to a mission: our purpose as human beings is to participate in the UCP not only by procreating but by creating—by creating forms more complex, intricate, elegant and wonderful than have previously existed, forms of all kinds: artistic, musical, linguistic, literary, cultural, social, economic, political, technological, philosophical, spiritual, and more.
From our limited perspective, we seem to be the leading edge of creativity in all the universe; however, probability suggests that developments like us and ones even more creatively complex have emerged elsewhere in the cosmic vastness. Even so, we can revel in our wondrous self-conscious awareness of the amazing process going on and urging us in its progression. The same imperative producing us prompts us now to protect what it has wrought and to nurture this creative process implicit in our being.
The moral imperative implicit in the UCP commands us to preserve the planetary matrix that sustains us in its prodigious proliferation of species. It commands us in particular to provide for the full flourishing of all human beings, the leading-edge creative agents on the Earth. Creativity itself commands that its experiments here continue to proliferate and not be stunted or endangered by our stupidity.
The creative imperative commands us to grow wise so that we can manage well the increasing responsibility entailed in our rapidly expanding intelligence. Intelligence ungoverned by wise values and wise decisions will be our undoing and will cancel the prospects of advancement of the UCP in this solar system.
What a shame that would be. But if this story of wise and compassionate creativity will help us avert that sorrow, tell it to others.