The Essence of the Book
N ow that the economic story has ended, what will take its place as the new sense-giving story of humanity? A narrative built on generosity and respect for each other, a narrative that promises to take you serious for who you are. The book is my contribution to the conversation about what kind of life we might want to live. Read, enjoy and criticize it - but above all use it as a trigger to ponder what kind of life you and your loved ones may want to live. And then live it.
Once old frames have lost their ability to help us find meaning in our everyday lives, a new one emerges. We are witnessing such an emergence of a new frame, built on relations, generosity and respect. This book is about the possibility to change our lives and our societies that both have become empty, wasted and mean. This book is about hope.
Before the beginning
We live in meta-narratives to give meaning to our lives. Without them, life's just one damn thing after another.
The World as it is: The economic frame
The current one is the economic story. Because everything is for sale it leads to a meaningless life.
The World as it will be: The generous frame
Rather than ask "what's in it for me?" the new frame asks "How can I serve your needs?".
How to get there from here
Start acting respectful and generous a few hours per week - and take it from there.
... yes, but what about work?
Of course we'll work, but our tasks will be different.
Who are you? What is your task? What do you really need?.
Understand, Imagine, Change
Just as the caterpillar thought that her life was over she turned into a butterfly.
... OK, but some more details, please
01. Before the beginning.
If I were to ask you how you decide what you decide, you most likely will talk about facts, constraints and truths. About weighing the pros and cons, about listening to a friend, celebrity or influencer whom you admire and who’s judgment you trust. Finally, you may talk about your intuition and your excellent gut feeling. While true, all of that happens within a narrative frame - a story which comes long before any of the considerations above. The catch is that these frames are so much a part of us, that we don’t recognize them as such. We may think we have 20/20 vision, but it is the frame we use, almost always subconsciously, that limits, shapes and distorts what we see, notice and pay attention to. The frame largely determines what we consider possible, how we shape our responses and deliver our re-actions. We really do only hear what we want to hear, and disregard the rest.
02. The current frame: The economic story.
It is difficult to get people to take the idea of frames serious. The first three, the heroic, religious and scientific one, are all rejected, because for most of us they are so far away in time and experience that they are unfamiliar, and they don’t resonate with us anymore. And for those who do live in them, the suggestion that they are frames, and changeable at that, is even more disturbing. It is the(ir) truth, after all. Before we make fun of those who are elevating another frame to an ultimate truth, let us be humble and recognize that the economic story is for most of us the objective and unalterable truth. It is all we’ve ever known, it is in our bones. It is the mother milk we were fed when we formed our views of the world. So, let me start with the (heroic?) task of trying to convince you that the economic frame is but a frame, and, furthermore, one whose time has passed.
03. The new frame: The story of generous respect.
The need to make sense of your life never goes away. But the narrative frames that help you do this, they come and go. Now that the economic frame is gone, what will take its place? To answer, I’ll have to venture into the unknown. Because we will know for sure only afterwards. After the new frame has emerged, proven its worth and been recognized as such by everybody. But I am impatient and don’t want to wait that long. Plus, the reason that old frames hang in there past their prime is not because they are still useful, they often hang on simply because nothing new has stepped forward to take their place. So, at the risk of writing something quite ridiculous, I will put forward my thoughts. Even if they do turn out to be besides the point, at least you will have learned from my attempt that one can and should do this. Maybe I’ll inspire you to try yourself - and hopefully, your attempt will be better.
04. How to get there from here.
How much effort is needed – to help bring forth the new generous frame? Surprisingly little. If you think of dominant frames as empires of the mind, you’ll be on the right track. While they reign supreme – empires and dominant frames alike, they are mighty, intimidating and invincible. Actually, seemingly invincible. Because within their strength are already the seeds of their demise. These seeds, inevitably, are 1) the tendency to spend more and more resources on the survival of the empire, or dominant frame, itself, rather than on serving the constituents for whom the empire was created; 2) empires and frames over-reach themselves; and 3) the tendency to shut themselves off from (critical) feedback, i.e. they stop learning. Since the voices of experts, specialists and the powerful have fallen silent on what the new will be and who will bring it forth, it is up to us, you and me, to do this. And when you are ready, lift your fingertip and push.
05. ...yes, but what about work?
When I talk to people about the new generous and respectful frame most like it, to most it seems a refreshing change from the current one. But, sooner or later, they begin to wonder: “Will people still buy and sell things, will they have jobs, and will they get paid for the work they do?” The short answer is ‘yes of course’, the longer one goes like this: Just because the economic story will no longer be the dominant organizing principle, this does not mean that commerce will disappear. But it will be an adjunct to life, not its determining feature.
Pages from Generous Respect
From the chapter "How to get there from here"
My other Book that might interest you
Scenario creation is one of the languages of the generous and respectful frame. This book teaches you how to create and use them.