Book Summary of Change Our Stories, Change the World
Karen I. Shragg
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Book Summary of
Change Our Stories, Change the World
Karen I. Shragg
In a continuation of my first book with Freethought House Press, Move Upstream, A Call to Solve Overpopulation, my second book, Change Our Stories, Change Our World, explores the deeper reasons behind what is needed to move the needle forward towards a better world. The reasons are simple, we are attached to old stories which are getting us nowhere fast. The answers are, however, far more complex for the attachments to our age-old stories. They weave their way through our systems and organizations which continue to temporarily benefit from their existence either with power and influence or money or both. Be that as it may, it is important to understand and unpack the stories we believe even though they no longer serve us.
From Worship to Wonder
Book Published by Freethought House Press, December 2020
Chapter one, From Worship to Wonder, takes on a big one, organized religion and the power it holds over society and individuals who excuse their agency by buying into the story that a supernatural being is in charge. It demonstrates with many examples the detrimental effects of organized religion. Accumulatively, religions have a terrible track record and are rarely put on trial for their misdeeds. She encourages a world where we are taught to wonder at nature’s beauty so that we may be inspired to be good stewards by knowing what is at stake.
From Greed to Need
In chapter two, an easier target is tackled. From Greed to Needis all about the way the world worsens when money becomes the god we worship. The assumptions made that money equals happiness has been disproven over and over again and yet we still live in a world where millionaires wish to become billionaires while nature suffers and millions of humans go without. We must establish a story of ‘enoughness’ as a key to happiness. By doing so we will have less bulldozers, less pollution and more time for pursuits of hobbies which bring more contentment.
From Limitless to Limited
Chapter three is a deeper dive into the issue of overpopulation and the overconsumption embedded inside its multitude of taboos. Expanding upon her Move Upstream thesis, in this chapter, entitled From Limitless to Limited, I discuss the fallacy of throwing the gasoline of density onto the fire of population growth. Examples are offered to show how immigration should not be shunned as a topic when it is the reason growth is continuing in the US. If growth is antithetical to sustainability, it must be tackled however it is presenting itself.
From Synthetic to Natural
Chapter Four, From Synthetic to Natural, will find fewer disbelievers as it tackles the loss of connection to the natural world which must be placed at the feet of technology and the corporations who peddle the devices which keep our brains distracted and our bodies indoors. We cannot make good judgements about the condition of the biosphere when we know the malls in our neighborhood better than we know the forests.
From the Other to Us
Chapter Five, From the Other to Us, tackles the need to see connection rather than difference from our fellow human and other species as well. It won’t do us much good if we get our populations down to reasonable numbers when we feel like punching out our neighbors because they are of different backgrounds. Compassion is called for in a world which can only destroy and bomb and look away from destructive behavior when the other is thought not to matter.
From Mindless to Mindful
Chapter Six, From Mindless to Mindful, is a culmination of how to go about exploring the previous ideas. Mindlessness serves our capitalistic ways as we continue to buy what we don’t really need and discard it into waste baskets without a thought as to where it is going. Consciousness is a concept used in many eastern philosophies to bring about inner peace and it is a useful tool in order to break away from our old stories. It takes time and practice, however and will take discipline, a difficult task in a culture which is finding it hard to wear masks.
Breaking away from these six stories is daunting, but so was making slavery illegal, getting the vote for women, and tackling ubiquitous smoking. No matter how overwhelming, unless we flip these stories so that the new stories become the dominant ones driving policy and practice, we will not succeed in changing the world; and change it we must, we have little choice. The book concludes with an appeal for openness and dialogue: "There must be room for new ideas to take root. They cannot do so in an atmosphere riddled with suspicion and cancel culture. We need to find our way toward a more just world without going down this road again... The garden of ideas and new stories will only flourish with the right amount of light (enlightenment), soil (scientific understanding), seeds (intentional desire for a better world), and permission to think and discuss freely beyond what we know."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Shragg is a lifelong environmentalist, naturalist, educator, poet, author and overpopulation activist. Karen received her doctorate from the University of St. Thomas in 2002, following two other degrees in education. She has recently retired as a long-time naturalist and nature center director to start the LLC, Move Upstream Environmental Consulting (MUSEC). As a member of the advisory board of the non-profit “World Population Balance”, and “Earth Overshoot”, she has become increasingly alarmed by the lack of discourse surrounding the overpopulation crisis. In 2015, her book Move Upstream: A Call to Solve Overpopulation, was published by Freethought House Press. Her new book moves the discussion further upstream: Change Our Stories, Change our World was published December 2020, by the same press.