The systems within which we live tell stories to us and through us

The stories of white supremacy, capitalism, and cis-hetero-patriarchy all have internal logics that shape the way that we who live under them think, feel and act.

These stories create the categories, stereotypes and prejudices we all unconsciously carry. These in turn impact the ways that we assess and place value, concern, energy and resources. They affect our regard or disregard for human beings, non-human beings, and environments. They shape our patterns of decision-making -- as individuals, as groups, as communities, and as societies.

The stories of the systems we live under become our own stories.

This happens with or without our consent and conscious agreement.

Some examples from my own life might help to illustrate.

I am white. Although my internal experience and current identity is genderfluid, I was raised as a girl and young woman, and for many, many years I accepted and embraced that designation.

Looking back on myself as an adolescent and young adult, I see a pattern of craving and working for the attention and regard of cis white men.

In my education, this meant working harder for cis white male teachers. It also, paradoxically, meant handing in fewer assignments, because their judgement of me had more impact on me than that of other teachers.

In work settings, this meant taking part in colleague relationships with cis white men built entirely on their teasing of and flirting with me, without comment or complaint, despite my deep discomfort.

In intimate relationships with cis white men, this meant complying with their wants over my needs, again and again and again.

In group settings, this still means giving more time and attention to cis white men than to anyone else in a group, even when I am actively monitoring myself, and consciously fighting against this tendency.

And all of this despite identifying and thinking as a feminist and anti-racist since before puberty.

All of which to say, the stories of the systems we live under live through us without our consent.

This is not a counsel of despair, but a call to arms.

We can become aware of the stories that are living through us. We can choose what stories we want to shape our thinking, feeling and action in their place. And we can actively work towards replacing one with the other.

It is not quick or easy work. It involves failing again and again. It means failing in many different ways. It means failing better over time. Failing in the direction we choose. Failing closer and closer to the change we want.

It is also not work we need to do alone. The stories of systems are the stories of groups, of cultures, of societies: no individual's work is enough to shift them. Indeed, the idea of the lone hero saviour is itself part of the stories told by white supremacy, capitalism, and cis-hetero-patriarchy.

I am working on two projects to change our collective stories: to fail better together.

The first is the Resilient Activists Learning Space.

This collective learning space will have courses and programmes to nourish and resource ourselves, as well as courses and programmes to develop practical skills for working with others to bring about change. I am currently looking for early adopters to help shape the space as I develop it. If that is something you'd like to be involved in, click here for more information.

The second is Business Beyond Capitalism.

The first phase of Business Beyond Capitalism is a '100 conversations' project, in which I am inviting anyone interested in non-capitalist and anti-capitalist ways of creating and pursuing business, even within a capitalist system, to have a free, 30 minute chat with me. If this interests you, yey! Click here to find out more and book our chat.

If you don't want to be directly involved in either of these projects, but you'd like to keep up to date with how things progress, you can sign up for email updates here:

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