“Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart bigger.” -Ben Orki

brain-exchange
Stories are never simple. Rhetoric is simple. Propaganda is simple. 5-minute news story soundbites are simple. But stories, stories are never simple–especially when they’re true.

Us humans, we have a tendency to block out information that disagrees with our worldview. We buy into stereotypes to simplify people so that we don’t have to consider their humanity. Our search bars may even be compounding these inimical propensities.

Whether online or not, we dig into the trenches of our opinions and convince ourselves that we are right. It seems logical that sometimes we are, but also that many times we are not. We change our minds here and there, but the ability to compare ideas seems to peak during the teenage years.

There is a depressing variety of situations in which it becomes necessary to ignore or shut out the ideas and viewpoints of others, but how do we keep ourselves from doing so unnecessarily? I think the answer is both simple and grueling: seek information.

The goal is not to find multiple opinions that agree with yours, or even multiple opinions that don’t. You’ll find opinions laced in every article and segment, even those that strive for editorial distance. The trick is getting information from enough places to embrace the gray.

Lately, when I think of Trump supporters, it is hard not to imagine them as a mass of A New Hope era Darth Vaders. The rhetoric and propaganda Trump is spewing may belong on the Dark side, but I’m willing to bet that most of his supporters have more in common with the morally-conflicted Vader of Return of the Jedi. People are often simpatico, even when groupthink is not.
hqdefault
When I’m having a hard time remembering that complexity is an all but constant truth, I remember Serial. The tagline for the podcast is ‘One story. Told week by week.’ In a world where I can ingest years worth of media in a few short days, Serial is an exercise in patience and attention. It speaks honestly of editorial opinion and reporter impression. It does not offer answers in two tones. It embraces the gray.

I doubt any person alive has the time or desire to approach every story they hear with an open mind, skepticism, and a willingness to withhold opinion. I do think that every person that tries to embrace the gray can succeed in doing so more often than not. The world is not made up of enemies and allies, as I remind myself almost every day.


15 thoughts on ““Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart bigger.” -Ben Orki

    1. Indeed we do. I imagine we always have, but in an increasingly interconnected world we have set ourselves up to stay disconnected.

      The news about Tamir Rice makes it even harder to imagine the US justice system as anything other than a monolithic evil.

  1. I tend to be unfashionably relativistic myself Madalyn; whilst it can come at times with a certain lack of definition on a particular subject, I somehow feel more naturally inclined to baulk at the modern insistence, propagated as it is in the mainstream media, that fixity of opinion is a sign of maturity and perspicacity, that positions must be taken, and we entrenched within them. When was the last time a politician ever answered a question by admitting that they did not know, that they needed time to think things through, or declared that both sides of an argument were equally weighted? Where does this illusion of certainty come from? I think it derives from the greatest story of all, the one we fabricate and elaborate within our own minds – the story of ‘me’.

  2. “I doubt any person alive has the time or desire to approach every story they hear with an open mind, skepticism, and a willingness to withhold opinion. I do think that every person that tries to embrace the gray can succeed in doing so more often than not.”

    BAAM! WHOOP WHOOP!!! You nailed it Madalyn! 😉 ❤

    My approach 90% of the time with humanity? “I have a question!” Answer ensues for next minute or 30-45 mins. “Thank you! I have another question!” Answer, long or short, then follows. 😀 “I have another question please!” And so on and so on. I am full of as many questions as there are stars flickering in our infinite sky! Hmm, so I guess technically it isn’t 90% but random isn’t it? LOL 😈

    Wonderful post Madalyn! Thank you!

      1. LOL…I wish I could say that is true 100% of the time, but alas… many questions go unanswered and so I’m happily forced to find my own answers even though I much prefer engaging dialogue and charm! 😀 😈

          1. I understand that. Some conversations have no open-ended questions or statements, which of course makes for crappy dialogue and very little exchange of good ideas, information, facts, or charm, IMO. 😉

            The more “sources” or avenues of information, ideas, theories, facts, etc… the better! The internet and books are great places to go. 😉

          2. I know, I know. I have improved a bit over the last couple of years, but conversations do not come easily to me. I like that backspace button. I like taking time to consider my thoughts, to talk through them in a process of discovery and understanding of where I am and where the other person is.

            I’ve seen people take their five minutes in the checkout line and get to know a person’s backstory. I have graduated from “hi” and “thank you” to an occasional exchange about life or events or circumstances, but never with the depth I’ve appreciated from others. I’m an excellent people watcher, not so much a people talker. I’d settle for figuring out how to make people talk, I’m an excellent people listener. ;P

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s