What happens to us matters a great deal, but even more powerful are the stories we repeat about what happened.*
Technology, publicity and propaganda everywhere promote the competitive spirit and afford means of satisfying it on an unprecedented scale.**
The Christian apostle Paul was probably being compared to super-apostles when he admitted his own weakness, concluding, “When I am weak, then I am strong,” and pointing to the relationship he had with his god.
Perhaps he could have also said of the community he was writing to in Corinth, “When we are weak then we are strong.”
These days, we’re more likely to come together in our projected strengths and rightness:
‘what Aristotle calls alazony: the hyperbole or boastfulness that is nicely captured by the modern term “bigging up”’.^
Brené Brown uncovers some of what we are hiding by this:
‘We’ve sorted ourselves into factions based on our politics and ideology. We’ve turned away from one another and toward blame and rage. We’re lonely and untethered. And scared. So damn scared.’^^
We’re scared of so many things and seem to find it every more difficult to find one another and to share these things, to admit we’re wrong and to learn more:
‘Some people don’t like to pivot- they think it looks weak. […] The thing is, pivoting isn’t a sign of weakness. Pivoting is a sign that you learned something today that you didn’t know yesterday.’*^
Yesterday I had the joy of visiting the story hut that is visiting the University of Edinburgh for an alternative learning week. An old shepherd’s hut, the wheeled space hosts eight people, keeping them cosy with a wood-burning stove and is filled with all kinds of thing to stimulations the senses – instruments from different countries, boxes with questions and objects inside of them, fine carving, old toys (spinning tops), old photos and more objects than I can remember. I picked up the two centimetre tall model of Pinnochio, finely crafted and had to tell the story of David, someone I knew who worked in printing during the day but made models, rich with detail in his non-work time.
Imagine a space in which we can tell stories to one another, just our very human stories, without the need to “big up,” to be with one another, just as we are, and out of these stories dream a brave new world.
(*From Seth Godin’s blog: The repetition of stories.)
(**From Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens.)
(^From Anne Pirrie’s Virtue and the Quiet Art of Scholarship.)
(^^From Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness.)
(*^From gapingvoid’s blog: The one thing to do when things aren’t working.)