Not the first time I have written on this subject. You may have guessed that I think it is important. What is a “metanarrative” anyway? It means “the big picture”. Or, to put it another way; “a world view”, how one sees something, how one sees oneself” and others and how one reacts or interacts with the world at large.
I know that you know that what one does, says and or reacts to, all starts in one’s mind. So; thinking is extremely important. It is the brain that guides us, even when we think it isn’t. It is like the many times my car drove me to the wrong office after we had moved to a new address. Of course, I blame the car. However, the truth is my brain just did what it had done many mornings before and parked me in the old parking place.
So; what we think of the world and our place in it will, of course, affect our actions. My concern is that many do not think that their world view is one that can be detrimental to others because of that view. Of course, others have different metanarratives than me. (See my blog. http://adrianhawkes.co.uk/?s=metanarrative+ this is a good description of an atheist’s world view.
Worldviews that see the world just as some kind of physical, time space only machine, end up treating people like machines. That is not very pleasant. Then, of course, there are those who see people as just another clever animal, resulting in people that treat people like animals too.
We all live according to our metanarrative. It is in our psyche and thinking. Our thinking directs our actions. Think about the thinking of Eric Harris. If you do not know who he is/was, let me tell you he was the youngster who shot dead 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High school in Colorado USA. We can see his metanarrative in one of his notebooks which was discovered after the tragic event He wrote, “There’s no such thing as True Good or True evil. It’s all relative to the observer. It’s just all nature, chemistry, and math. Deal with it!” Now tell me: Does our metanarrative matter?
Then there is that metanarrative that says we are all here just by an accident. Now that is somewhat pointless, don’t you think? Richard Peters (1919-2011) puts it best. Again, I add, if you don’t know him, he was a major educationalist in his work place. Peters was Professor of the Philosophy of Education at the Institute of Education (founded 1947) University of London. In 1971 he was Dean of the Institute. Under his guidance the Institute grew fast and considerably influenced the development of the philosophy of education in England. But - what was his metanarrative? His metanarrative of course reflected itself in his metanarrative’s direction for education. He could do no other. With that foundation of thought he tells us, “Our basic predicament in life is to live with its ultimate pointlessness. We are monotonously reminded that education must be for life. Therefore, obviously the most important dimension of education is that in which we learn to come to terms with the pointlessness of life.” Great isn’t it. No wonder we have such an increase in suicide.
All “Big Stories” (metanarratives) have consequences – for good or ill – for individuals, communities and wider society. The current secular big story that is being pushed in our current culture carries particular risks of harm and conflict for everyone. It affects how you will be treated and how, by your metanarrative, you will treat others. Are you just a consumer, a number, a machine, an animal? Are you nothing but an accident? How does your metanarrative make you think, and of course act?