Hatching Free Range Ideas

Our stories are too small

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm

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.

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  1. Yes, there is always more to consider.” The butterfly effect.”
    That which we don’t think is important,that which we can’t see…

  2. it changes the world

  3. Last night I started thinking about how I shrink stories in order to cut to the chase and thought I ought to admit that when I was looking for a photo/image to add to this post, I Googled “Ugly Sarah Palin.” Granted, I had to wade through too many images of her in high heels and star spangles. Ah, well. I suppose it’s part of being small myself. But, as they say, awareness is the first step.

    • So you missed posting 1/1/11. But this was 1/11/11… If numbers are significant, is one day better than another to mark the start of a new year?

  4. You must be asking whether one more one in one day is better for a start. ‘Cause since I posted a beginning anyway, even though I missed the real Western beginning, I guess numbers are significant to someone else? How’s your blog? Wanna guest post here and add a link to pick up some traffic?

  5. What will become of us if we are not willing and open to people/opinions totally different than our own?

  6. I just watched the TED talk titled Take the Other to Lunch. It moved me. And frightened me. And made me wonder how much courage I have.

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