Tag Archives: storytelling

What Story Are You Living In?

The county in which I live has the second highest positivity rate for COVID-19 in the entire state. The county with the highest rate is right next door. Our governor has extended the restrictions placed on gatherings. The compulsory closure of businesses continues.

With businesses in our state and around the country shuttered, Congress is still at an impasse over the next coronavirus relief plan. They will almost certainly agree to something – political survival likely depends on it – but it will be too late for many businesses and the people they employ.

More bad news. Dr. Anthony Fauci and other infectious disease specialists are expecting a surge of coronavirus illnesses just in time for Christmas. Doctors and politicians are urging families to avoid holiday gatherings this year. The effect of a COVID-19 Christmas on relationships, suicide rates, and the economy is unknown but ominous.

We live in a constantly changing story and, in America at least, we do not agree on what the story is. Is it the story of a convincing victory by the Democratic presidential contender or is it the story of massive voter fraud and an election hijacking? Is it the story of a devastating pandemic or of media hype?

Because we cannot agree on the story, we can hardly talk to each other. There was a time when there was broad consensus on the outlines of the American story. Certainly some of the plot lines – who was best qualified to carry the story forward, for example – were open to debate, but we mostly agreed on the story’s major themes.

This was largely true of both men and women, home-grown and naturalized citizens. Because of slavery, black Americans saw the past differently, as did people of Indigenous American descent, who were subject to broken treaties, theft of land, and mass extermination. But even within these groups, the future story held a similar shape.
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Everyone Is a Storyteller: What’s Your Story?

Every grasping, hoarding, angry person is telling themselves a story. So is every generous, sacrificial, compassionate person – but they are different stories.

The middle school Spanish teacher is a storyteller. So is the foundry worker and the clerk at the gas station. The theologian is a storyteller, as is the banker, the automaker, and the spy. Even the middle school Spanish student is a storyteller.

The stories we tell frame our understanding of the world and explain our experiences. Much of our thinking is done in stories. History is an exercise in storytelling. So is philosophy. So is science.

This is not some abstract truth. It is a daily experience. If you find a ten-dollar bill lying in the driveway, your brain automatically generates a story, or more than one. The bill slipped out of your pocket when you got out of the car to get the mail. Alternately, it fell out of the mailman’s pocket when he got out of his jeep to bring a package to the door. The story you tell yourself helps you know what to do with the ten dollars.

This is not some abstract truth. It is a daily experience. Continue reading

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