I'm sure I have something in common with this woman. I'm trying to find it.
I’ve been thinking, along with the rest of you about Arizona. It feels to me like a Mexican border-town. Or Pakistan. Full of fear and the hate born of fear.
And I wondered how these simple stories that cut to the chase contribute to the hate and fear.
Simple stories allow us to process information quickly, to decide what side of the issue is true for us. Are we so interested in saving time that the only stories that work for us these days are one dimensional? Good vs. Bad?
Decision made, we can distance ourselves from or associate ourselves with the protagonist and the antagonist very quickly as “like us” or “not like us.” Like us; good. Not like us; bad.
But the stories of our lives are anything but simple. In truth, there are no simple stories, no “just the facts” that can lead us to a definite decision. Maybe that’s why when we deal with other people’s stories that’s exactly what we want. Other people’s lives need to be dealt with quickly so that we can get back to our own stuff, which we know is very complex, even complicated.
Is this familiar? You’re telling someone a story about an experience you had. They quickly sum it up and conclude, ready to move on. You pause the decision because there is more to consider and you add a bit more information, “But wait. It’s not that simple.” They again quickly sum it up. You pause it again. . .
Hate comes from simple stories. My worry is that once our stories are small, our hearts are next.
A Tao story tells of an old farmer whose horse ran away. When the neighbors heard the story, they said sympathetically, “Such bad luck.”
The farmer replied “Maybe.”
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it two other wild horses.
“How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“Maybe,” replied the old man.
The following day, his son was thrown while riding tone of the untamed horses. He broke his leg.
The neighbors again offered sympathy.
“Maybe,” answered the farmer.
The next day, army officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. They passed the farmer’s son over because his leg was broken. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
“Maybe,” said the farmer.
Do I despise the purveyors of simple stories? Maybe. But maybe there’s something more to the experience that I’m not considering.