Chapter 6

Drop the Horror

“Once our personal connection to what is wrong becomes clear, then we have to choose: we can go on as before recognising our dishonesty and living with it the best we can or we can begin the effort to change the way we live and think ” Wendell Berry

Now that we’ve identified the two ‘horror stories’ – ‘Nature is our slave’, ‘Productivity (alone) is success’ – that are helping to weave the narrative of separation and design our broken economy, we can start to do something about them.

These harmful horror stories show up in all sorts of places in our culture, from blockbuster films to board games and museum exhibits. We need to spot and reveal the horror stories in these things, so that together we can dismantle and drop them.

While we’re doing that, we’ll also spot and share the places where the healthy ‘love stories’ – ‘Nature is our family’, ‘Wellbeing is success’ – show up, so that we can carry them instead – more on that in the next chapter.

“The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories”

As storytellers, we have immense power, and therefore responsibility, to get this right. What follows below is just the beginning of a process that we hope can continue well beyond this site.

“Revealing the system
to itself is a powerful change-making device”

The approach we’re taking here is grounded in an understanding of culture and system change. A big part of that is in revealing what’s wrong, and that what’s better is already happening.

“You can never direct a living system. You can only disturb it. How do you disturb a system? By introducing information that contradicts old assumptions. By demonstrating that things people believe they can’t do are already being accomplished somewhere.”

Our economy is a living system – it’s just us, designing things, making choices, telling stories – so that’s how we’re approaching it here.

Below are some examples of where we can see the ‘horror stories’ showing up in our culture, and the impact that they have on the choices we then make. 

To help us spot them, we asked two questions: 

If we keep telling ourselves to fear, control and destroy the natural world, why would we look after it?

source: Ladbible

Source: The Sun

source: The Metro
source: Design Museum
source: NATV

If we keep telling ourselves that productivity is all that matters, what happens to our life?

source: Vale Life

Destroying ecosystems in 2020 to move faster via HS2
source: Byline Times
Source: The Mirror
source: Bloomberg Wealth/ LSE
source: Imperative 21
source: Guardian

“To get a sense of how unhinged our economy is from the real world, consider the fact that pollinators, earthworms, rainforests, clean air, parenting, friendship, sleep and solidarity are considered to be literally valueless according to our dominant metric of economic success.”

“Our economic system is the underlying driver of so many of the diseases we see in our society today. Medical science holds that to cure a disease we must first name its cause; health professionals need to start talking about capitalism.”


Dr Guddi Singh

This is just a starter exercise to spot and reveal the ‘horror’ stories in our culture.

What other examples can you think of? 

Share them #storiesforlife #horrorstories

Chapter 7 - Carry the Love »