"It is easy to forget how mysterious and mighty stories are. They do their work in silence, invisibly. They work with all the internal materials of the mind and self. They become part of you while changing you. Beware the stories you read or tell; subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world." - Ben Okri
As human beings, we’ve always told stories: stories about who we are, where we come from, and where we’re going. Now imagine that one of those stories is taking over the others, becoming something we take for granted as our very reality - a governing pattern that the culture obeys, a nearly-invisible framework that structures our lives and narrows our diversity, creating a monoculture.
A monoculture doesn't mean that we all believe exactly the same thing or act in exactly the same way, but that we share key beliefs and assumptions about how the world works and what our lives ought to look like. Because a monoculture is mostly left unarticulated until it has been displaced years later, we learn its boundaries by trial and error. We somehow come to know how the master story goes, though no one tells us exactly what the story is or what its rules are. We develop a strong sense of what’s expected of us at work, in our families and communities — even if we sometimes choose not to meet those expectations. We usually don’t ask ourselves where those expectations came from in the first place. They just exist — or they do until we find ourselves wishing things were different somehow, though we can’t say exactly what we would change, or how.
Monocultures rise and fall with the times. In sixteenth-century Europe, the monoculture centred on religion and superstition (think of Galileo being accused of heresy by the Catholic Church for claiming that the sun and not the earth was at the center of the solar system). Roughly a hundred years later, the master story was about the discoverability of the world through science, machines and mathematics.
Now, in the early decades of the twenty-first century, the monoculture is economic. Because of the rise of the economic story, six areas of your world are changing - or have already changed - in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. How you think about your work, your relationships with others and with the environment, your community, your physical and spiritual health, your education, and your creativity are being shaped by economic values and assumptions. And because how you think shapes how you act, the monoculture isn't just changing your mind - it's changing your life.