Our Storywise work has always included what most leave out. What we term NARRATIVE ETHICS. It indicates that we take responsibility for the fact that in teaching stories, we are teaching people how to use a weapon. It can be deadly. And we should not be surprised that the best storytellers end up on the side of darkness and division. Yet, this seems to always outrage us. How dare they?
Our work that we have done for 25 years is not so much about telling a better story but becoming storywise. That requres understanding a few things and thereby losing our narrative innocence –
1-all stories are lies by definition. They all distort the world.
2-that buying a story is like buying a used car- caveat emptor. Someone is using us.
3-that a trained narrative analyst can act better than any lie detector to protect us from being conned
This third dimension that is so urgent right now. It is what I believe we in the narrative world need to get back to. We have learned in our Middle East work that if anyone is talking about change, and they are not also talking about power, they are not talking about change.
Confronting power is messy and dangerous. But how else do we counter the sort of stories like Comet Ping Pong or Wuhan Virus? Who is telling them? Who is spreading them? Who is believing them? And what do these stories make us into?
For us at CNS, we feel compelled to get back into the saddle and revisit the work of 20 years ago. The mission then and now was to alert people to be storywise-grasp
1. the power of stories.
2. To show them how stories have real effects in shaping identity, community and destiny and
3.that if we undertand 1 and 2, we are better equipped to protect ourselves from fascism and the story totalitarianism of dogma, ideology and populism.
If a policeman can snuff out a life in the full gaze of bystanders and camera, what story has be internalized and actualized in that brutal killing. Unless we story operatives can answer that, I do not honestly see much future relevance to our work. In the critical time when stories are wracking the world with a wickedness rarely seen, aren’t we the story specialists? Aren’t we the ones who have the ezpertize to equip people to defend their freedom? There is a lot of work to be done.
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