Chapter 4

The Narrative of Interbeing

“Humanity’s 21st century challenge is to meet the needs of all within the means of the planet” Kate Raworth

The ‘narrative of interbeing’ recognises the reality that we are intimately interconnected with each other and all life.

That we are entangled within the more-than-human-world as part of it. That we exist in a sprawling, fractal, constantly evolving web of reciprocal relationships.

It understands that to love and protect ourselves, we must love and protect nature – the life we need to live – seeking balance with respect and humility.

The narrative of interbeing is not new. 

It has been around for thousands of years and is still carried by various knowledge traditions and many communities, particularly indigenous ones, some of whom are the last defenders of the remaining wild places on our planet.

“Enlightenment is when a wave realises it is the ocean”


Thich Nhat Hanh

Western civilisation – or ‘modernity’ – became cut off from this narrative and the wisdom it carries. Some suggest this was the result of invasive, violent trauma, an unhealed trauma which caused us to seek accumulation, separation and control.

This trauma response was carried through philosophy and religion and has shaped our technologies and cultures, encouraging us to live beyond our means by designing an economy which currently needs 1.6 planets to sustain it, collapsing our life support systems in the process.

But today, thanks to the mountains of evidence provided by the latest scientific breakthroughs, we are realising that the more ancient understanding, which we in the West have been dismissing as ‘woo-woo’, ‘hippy’ or ‘backwards’, is in fact much closer to reality than our own.

We need to humbly accept this if we are to stand a chance of healing.

“We are living off expired or expiring stories.”


Vanessa Machado de Oliveira

We can see what the narrative needs to be instead, and we have the design upgrades we need it to help us choose.

The work now is about humbly letting go of that harmful narrative of separation, to instead embrace the healthy narrative of interbeing.

The narrative that will help us redesign our economy as an Economy in Service to Life.

“Those who tell the stories rule the world.”

Hopi community proverb

“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”


Martin Luther King Jr.

To embrace this healthy narrative of interbeing, we need to notice the stories in our culture that are weaving the harmful narrative of separation – what we’re calling ‘horror stories’ – and think about how to reconnect them to reality as ‘love stories’.

The next three chapters focus on how we can encourage that reconnection (get comfy, there’s a lot in them!).

“Scientific evidence at all scales of existence and across numerous fields of research is discovering that our Universe is fundamentally interconnected, interdependent, and ultimately unified.”

Next Chapter

Chapter 5 - Story reconnections »