Story telling has been a part of human cultures since well before the advent of written language. Stories were used as a way to pass down knowledge and wisdom, because they’re easier to remember and easier to show in the form of a story.
Wisdom was shown through characters and their actions, and deeper truths through analogy, allegory and metaphor. Because of this long history of storytelling as a way to pass on information and wisdom, humans seek meaning in stories, even in those written without conscious thought as to their meaning. There’s a problem there, isn’t there?
Look at popular fiction and movies. What do they say to us? How often do they show violence as a way of solving problems? How often do they show enlightened speech, action or beings? And yet, they have a powerful sway over the public. Look at the Twilight saga hysteria, the Harry Potter phenomena and, now, Shades of Grey that runs the risk of popularising dysfunctional sexual relations. Regardless of what you thought of the books, they had/have a huge impact on the imagination of millions of people. What is considered literature today is often merely an expose of some troubled aspect of society. Rather than affording any insight into solutions, fiction often simply provides role models for the continuation of the problem.
Imagine if popular fiction was the kind that fostered enlightened thought, words and deeds? Fiction, like all art, can simply be a reflection of our society, but in the inspired hands of those with insight, it can be an enlightened vision that leads a society to new heights.
Do you know of any fiction, or other works of art that does this?