Michel Foucault was a French intellectual who examined “systems of thought” that drive a culture. He believed our personal beliefs are directly linked to the larger cultural story. They are constructed, at least in part, by those in power to keep that story intact, note Michael White and David Epston, citing Foucault, in Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends.
What happens over time, per Foucault, is that we take these constructed “truths” as our own personal beliefs when, in fact, they are not ours at all. We also deify them, that is, make them god-like.
This is the meta-game, played out on multiple levels and in multiple ways, in a society, more often than not to keep a society’s people in check.
The task, then, is to deconstruct our stories and our personal belief systems to see what is ours and what is the culture’s, and then reconstruct a belief system, and a life, that is authentic.
This is not easy work. But it is critical work if the larger cultural story is to change.