An interesting Hopi proverb

Hopi basket weaver. From Wikimedia Commons.

By way of the Willamette Writers newsletter, I learned the other day of a Hopi proverb that goes, “The one who tells the stories rules the world.” I was pretty impressed by that notion and promptly sent it out to one of my mailing lists, and received the following reaction:

Debra, no! That Hopi Proverb is no good. We don’t get into the storytelling business because we want power! Don’t sneer at politicans then, who crave power, if you want it to, just go about seeking it with different methods.

Well, I thought that was a very interesting response, and certainly holds with a view of the dangers of power-lust to which I hearily subscribe. But here was my response:

Dear ___

I think you’re being just a *wee* bit too literal (not to mention, political) with your interpretation of the phrase “rule the world.” The Western world, for instance, for all its “fallenness” has been thoroughly imbued with Christian principles and symbols and teaching because it embraced “the greatest Story ever told.”

Of course storytellers don’t tell stories for the purpose of literally gaining power–or if he does, he’s been taking the advice of a pretty poor political advisor. But it is nonetheless a fact that the “stories” which are widely accepted in a culture, whether fictional or historical, mold that culture in extremely “powerful” ways.

Think of other similar phrases: “The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world.” Or “He who owns the past, owns the future.” Neither are literally true, but they both express very important realities.


Categories: Culture, Politics, Religion and Writing.

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