Tapping into the Power of Myths

Carol A. Hand

The day before Thanksgiving, I watched a movie that left me bereft of hope and shattered my belief that change is possible. The documentary, Silenced, describes the devastating experiences of three whistle-blowers – Thomas Drake (NSA), Jesselyn Radack (DOJ), and John Kiriakou (CIA). Their attempts to raise public awareness about post-9/11 policy shifts made them targets of unrelenting government attacks.

It’s always hard for me to accept the fact that some people deliberately choose to destroy others. But this movie reminded me that it does happen. It’s happened to me on much smaller scales. For periods of time the likelihood of reprisal did silence my voice temporarily. After watching this movie, I honestly wondered if anything I write or do makes any difference at all.

I awoke on Thanksgiving morning still feeling that hope was futile. And then, a funny thing happened. Well, not really funny at the time. I’m still living with the consequences. My computer wouldn’t turn on without a security password. The problem was that I had shut off my computer after loading Windows 10 before visiting the old email address I had used as a contact. The locked screen made it clear. There was no way I would be able to unlock the computer without the password they emailed to that address after my computer was off.


Photo: My old “sacred” writing space

Luckily, I had finished and verified the 50K words for NaNoWriMo earlier that day, and all my book chapters were backed-up on a flashdrive. But I had no access to email or the internet. My PC was my only connection. And I don’t remember my old password, anyway. I didn’t need to. It’s saved on my PC. So what could I do?

I went out on my back porch and sipped my morning coffee. Instead of feeling distraught, a sense of peace came over me. I realized that one way or another, I would solve this problem. And then a thought flashed through my mind – something I learned during the study I have been writing about in the first chapters of my book.

I remembered the answer that flashed through my mind when I faced five faculty members to defend one of the questions I wanted to explore in my research study. “What is the best you can imagine for the children, families, and tribal community in the future?”

How can you possibly find that out,” one faculty member asked. I already had heard the answer although I didn’t realize it until that question was asked. Whenever Ojibwe community members had shared their stories, they always mentioned memories of the good old days with elders before they were removed from their homes. Their voices took on a softer tone and their eyes were focused on long-past days. It was the past they romanticized and a future they longed to see manifested again.

Then, it struck me. The myth of America is similar in many ways to the romantic memories of the Ojibwe people who shared their stories with me. A day of thanksgiving, a place of equality, freedom, and brother(sister)hood. The strength of this myth for mobilizing people can be seen in the popular response to Bernie Sanders. He touches that place in people and ignites their hope.

Of course, the system can’t be changed by any one man or woman who is merely a figurehead of a monstrous bureaucracy that has had centuries to indoctrinate those who work there. But it’s the hope that the myth ignites in thousands of people that makes change a possibility.

It’s something energizing to think about, anyway. Today, it gives me hope. And maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to have my old password reset by a technician and sent to me at a newer email address. It’s one I can access now from the old PC I figured out how to connect to the internet today.


Photo: My new writing space

It may be a while before my system is functional, so please be patient. Until then, I send my greetings and my promise that I will keep working toward the best future I can imagine for all of us. I know you will all keep doing so, too.


18 thoughts on “Tapping into the Power of Myths

  1. Oh, I’m so glad your hope has been renewed. Whenever people say that one person can’t make a difference, I like to reming them of Madelyn Murray O’Hare, Roe vs Wade, and others who pushed on when the odds could have been against them. So I’m glad to hear that you will ” keep working toward the best future I can imagine for all of us.” Make those waves and a difference. Love and hugs, Natalie 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I, too, feel that way sometimes. A sense of frustration, incomprehension, anger, and even hopelessness. We must not give up and it can be difficult but renew your spirit in the way only you know how and don’t shut down. You are always a positive light, dear Carol, and continue to make a difference even if it is a small difference by shining your light. Shine brightly. ((HUGS))

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Carol – this spoke to me today. I’ve been feeling disenchanted yesterday and this morning, especially after I watched a heart-rending video of injured, dying and dead children in Syria after a Russian bombing raid. At these times, it can all feel hopeless, as you describe with the treatment of whistle-blowers and your own experience. Sometimes we do need to go through this though I think, to emerge with clearer seeing eyes, as you so eloquently describe. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for such sharing such thoughtful comments and insights, Jackie! It’s heartening to know that others often go through the same process of debilitating despair and reawakening hope 🙂


  4. Please keep a back-up of your PWs saved in a manually written diary, Carol, for sake of good order. Negative experiences, as you rightly indicate, elevate us to another level of strength and perception of better solutions to resolving the challenges ahead. I hear a lot about Bernie Sanders in connection with upcoming presidential elections. But does he really stand a chance of winning the nomination and then the elections? The view I have is that Hillary will sail through. If so, the US will at last have a woman at the helm…best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Raj. I do write somethings in notebooks, but it’s so much easier for me to write on the computer. But I must admit, yesterday I was contemplating the idea a buying an old fashioned typewriter 🙂

      In terms of Bernie Sanders, I agree with your assessment. What intrigues me though is his ability to tap into the best tendencies of people – their hopes for a country that really lives up to its myths and frequently-touted ideals. Hillary doesn’t inspire tap into the same hopes, but you’re probably correct in your prediction that she’s more electable than Bernie. Yet in neither case is change likely. That will take a critical mass of people who are willing to make changes in their own lives to build the world they’d like to see.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for your eloquence. And I have to think your computer experience is one more example of how the security systems put in place supposedly to protect us more often work against us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your always thoughtful comments, Diane. I want to thank you for your encouragement. I’m not sure I would have enrolled in NaNo without your encouragement. I still have a long way to go yet to finish this task, but it’s a good start.

      And my computer issues are resolved – at least for the moment. A wonderful technician at the small company that provides internet service for my old email account actually helped me find the necessary code and change the windows password. He patiently waited on the phone to make sure it worked. He also gave me the username and password for my account, and it’s now recorded with all the others in a tiny notebook in my desk drawer. But technology is still a challenge for me and will ever be so.

      The up-side is that computer problems did force me to take a much needed break from writing everyday, all day. It also gave my granddaughter a chance to showcase her computer skills, and gave me a little time to think about other issues and practice hopeful patience 🙂


  6. We must not let these continuing and passing material political injustices diminish our spirits. Over this past week I was fortunate enough to have the reality of what is most important, the eternal undying spiritual truths that continue brought to me. I can understand despair and heartbreak and that darkness that can descend, I was wrapped in it for a few weeks. But the light is around and within us – and this is what we hold on to and know is the ultimate triumph.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. On another NOTE, I see you have a keyboard in your new workspace – very nice, great idea! That will give you refreshing breaks in the midst of your hard work of writing (or become a great distraction, whatever 😉 ). Congratulations on finishing your 50,000 words!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for lighthearted comments and encouragement. ❤ I don't use my keyboard often – but I do play my guitar and sing sometimes when there are too many thoughts racing through my mind. Music does help 🙂


    1. I appreciate your thoughtful comments a great deal, Melissa. My password issues were resolved. The lack of access turned out to be a gift that gave me time to figure out a crucial transition for the book I’m working on. Had it not been for the forced break, I may well have missed this crucial turning point.


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