A New Story Part II - On Principles
Long ago, before there were mortals on the earth, Zeus gave Prometheus the task of creating humans.
Prometheus knelt in the mud, dug down and shaped a man with his own hands, just like a sculptor would.
Watching nearby was Zeus's daughter, Athena. Athena had been born from Zeus's head - like an idea - as a fully formed woman clad in armour but vulnerably naked beneath her coverings. She admired Prometheus's work and breathed life into his creation.
Art and ideas; muddy hands and a delicate mind.
Intensely proud of his sculpture, Prometheus decided to distinguish men from beasts by making them stand upright like the gods. That is when everything changed.
Disgusted, Zeus decreed that men should demonstrate their subservience by sacrificing a portion of their food to the gods. Prometheus tricked him into accepting skin and bones, while humans should enjoy the meat. Forever.
In a rage, Zeus removed fire from men. Defiant, Prometheus lit a torch from the sun and brought the stolen flame to his shivering creations. A little piece of the heavens on earth.
Zeus sent his servants, Violence and Force, to take the sculptor to a mountain and chain him there with unbreakable diamond chains. There he was tormented by an eagle tearing at his liver, which regenerated in the night.
Zeus gave Prometheus two options to escape this fate. Prometheus chose neither.
A New Story Part I
I once had an epiphany in a public toilet.
I was in downtown Athens seeking relief for my belly full of bottled water when I came across a huge outdoor concert in one of the squares.
Some American Christian band was rocking out Protestant-style in a country where it is practically illegal to be anything but Greek Orthodox. Product in the hair, hands in the air and all that.
I ducked into a loo and found myself shoulder to shoulder at the urinal with a white-bearded man who was already midstream.
In Australia, you don't acknowledge fellow urinal users unless it is obvious that you are each very drunk. You might ask them if they're having a good night or something.
I should not have been surprised that in Greece, they get philosophical.
"There is no humanity in this," said the man, the music pulsing through the floor. "In the old days we had many gods, many stories. Much humanity. Now there is just one story. No humanity in this one."
Very unorthodox. Two shakes and he was out of there and I was left alone in contemplation.
I decided he was right.
In our culture, we really only have one story and we tell it to ourselves perpetually: Follow your heart and you will win.
If you include the many variations of the story that motivated the band that night, we also have this one: There is a chosen one who will save us all.
I don't think either story is working particularly well for us. I think we need different stories.
So I'm going to start digging up a few and sharing them here.