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A Game of Chinese Whispers

Time is an interesting concept; and even trying to comprehend time, history and things that happened hundreds of thousands of years ago, is enough to give us a headache and make our brains short circuit. For many young people, the idea of the second World War seems so long ago, because of the amount of change that has happened over the last few decades. The reminder that it still hasn't even been a full 100 years since that event, can really put the notion of time into perspective for a lot of people. This then begs the question; if we can feel so detached from an event like that, to the point we struggle to comprehend how life may have been during that time, what does it say for other time periods before that.

These days it is easy to find evidence of these moments in history due to the way as humans we have evolved and prioritised the safe keeping of physical evidence, making it easier to track, trace and preserve; but as any historian would tell you, there really is a lot of our history that has been lost to time. Some might even argue that we only know certain things about history and are able to put 'some' sort of narrative together based on the few physical artefacts that we have been able to find over the last couple hundred years. Not to mention we are only just beginning to really look into, and embrace the idea, that history is also written and depicted from a "victors" point of view. You can see see this in the rise in books and content reclaiming the stories of those who have been oppressed and encouraged to be quiet, over the last few years; members of the LGBTQIA+ community, black and indigenous people and cultures and of course the countless women reclaiming their own stories, as well as those doing research to reclaim the stories of those who's truth have been lost to time.

It is without question that the key pieces of evidence that help us piece together our history, comes from stories and eye witness account of events that have happened over the years; whether physically documented, or stories that have been verbally relayed through people for generations. It only takes watching an episode of 'Who do you think you are?' to be able to see the different ways investigators are able to uncover things; such as our family history from both physical artefacts, to finding and talking to people who have stories and knowledge about past times to share. It makes it easy to see how quickly and easily our history can be traced back and a narrative strung together; but there is almost always a cut off point, when they physically can't trace things back further due to a lack of that concrete physical evidence our modern brains are so obsessed with. It is because of this reliance on science and believing in what we can physically see, the idea of religion becomes so preposterous and unrealistic to so many these days and why there is a massive divide between the two. Science and Religion seem so far away from each other, that the idea that the real answers may lie between the two, becomes so far fetched for so many. We are so obsessed with beating, competing and one upping each other, we can't even comprehend that both sides may in fact be right. I mean there's got to be a reason that both have stood the test of time.

I want us to think of that old favourite, childhood game, of Chinese Whispers. One child starts with a statement and then they have to pass it around the circle from person, to person, until it gets back to the start. More often than not, the concluding statement is completely different from the one that was started with. As the statement moves from person to person, particularly if it is a large group, each person shows the potential for error. That's just basic human nature. We are all different and unique in our own individual ways. Some of us have great hearing and are able to relay the information they have been given clearly and accurately; however some of us may mumble our words, others can't hear as well, some people have memories that aren't as strong as others and some people just want to watch the world burn and will change the words and narratives as a sense of control; and because they think it's funny. So when put into the context of a familiar game like Chinese Whispers, it is easy to see how the passing of information from one person to another can change the outcome of a narrative or statement.

Now to put that game into context for the stories about our history. Take for example our old faithful fairy tales. Fairy Tales were stories being told around the communal fire for years in different languages and iterations before the Brother's Grimm got a hold of them and put them to paper. Since then those stories too have been translated and retold in many ways; from the original darker tails, to the sickly sweet Disney re-imaginings, to Marissa Meyer's futuristic series The Lunar Chronicles. All have similar roots, origins and characters, but each one has it's own underlying message and purpose for the varying generations that come across them.

Take the tale of Cinderella for example, no matter what adaptions you make; whether that's having her sleep by the fire covered in literal cinders, making her scrub floors in a diner (A Cinderella Story), or making her a cyborg mechanic way in the future(Cinder: The Lunar Chronicles); the "Cinderella" story will always be that of a special girl (or boy) who loses a parent and is humbled and brought to rags by their Step Parent. The protagonist is then given an opportunity to go to a royal ball/party and provided the chance to be seen for who they really are. They then spend the final part of the story finding the confidence to own that truth and step up from the lower, rags and squalor part of their life; and they are allowed to have that good life, because they remained a kind hearted, generous person the whole time.

But it's not just fairy tales that get the re-telling treatment. They say there are only 7 archetypal stories and writers come along and adapt them and turn them into something new. Whether that's physically taking the same story and remaking it, just in a different setting, or using it as a base and building off of it. Take the Shakespearean classic Romeo and Juliette for example; and how many times that has been retold. From period accurate portrayals, to a more modern gun toting 1990s interpretation and even an animated interpretation including Gnomes. They are all the same story, just with some different words and a different font based on a director/writer's preference. And so it begs the question; what secrets or lost history may be hiding within our stories and texts beneath different variations, fonts and translations that have been obscured due to that timeless game of Chinese Whispers.

The truth about extra terrestrials, the lost lands of Lemuria, Atlantis and Avalon, mythical creatures and magic; and even the answers to; is there a God, heaven or reincarnation. As we broach certain topics on this blog and begin to deep dive into our favourite stories from recent decades, we may just find some common clues that will tell us; and maybe some of us will work out our own truth and gain some meaning to life.

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