We all work with our own descriptions of what makes a story a story- at Storywise, we have always loved the metaphor of engine and fuel, and I suspect in it we are stealing wholesale from what we understand to be Lacan’s idea of Jouissance- if anyone understands Lacan- not sure even Jacque did- but it leads to some interesting ways of commenting.
“When combatants decide to share a personal story, one that comes out of the authority of their own experience, not parotting some tribal or religious orthodoxy, they begin to dismantle the wall of separation. They turn a wall into a window. Brick by brick, story by story, light comes through. Underneath all the disagreements and bitterness, a shared human story gradually emerges. Because the stories of war and propaganda work by stripping the “other” of their humanity, sharing a story from the heart becomes a profound act of resistance. NSL creates a Listening culture where stories are treated as gifts, and where through a narrative way, people can reclaim the capacity that war has stolen from them, the power to give people their humanity back.”
Week Two of NSL begins and we come to the end of the beginning, where the newness matures into the realization that we have real work to do, part of which is getting ready to have some difficult conversations.
Listening is what we think is natural, and speaking is the not so easy part. But to listen is so much harder, when the listening is allowing our defenses to drop and letting the teller take us to a new and difficult place.
When our words become inflamed with the prejudices of the past, its time to calm the biology, to identify the Amygdala hijack that the brain scientists tell us about, and learn how to use the three S’s, be Soft and not Hard, go Slow and not Fast, and be Simple and not complicated.
We find that our default behaviors and assumptions that back home we take as natural, might be part of the problem. The first step of change is not to do anything except stop doing what feeds the problem. The power of a good story is that it makes every listener complicit. It might be about the tragic death of an innocent child but ultimately its about us. The first outrage we feel is about such cruelty perpetrated by others. The final outrage is that we live in a world that our indifference makes such cruelty possible.
The movie “The Mission” ends with this telling exchange
Hontar: We must work in the world, your eminence. The world is thus.
Altamirano: No, Señor Hontar. Thus have we made the world… thus have I made it.
“A few days ago, all of us got the incredible opportunity to speak to members of Congress and their staff. To be honest, I am still shocked that I had the chance to talk to these talented and important people. This was an amazing opportunity for me to hear more about what you, the American people, think of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict. I heard that you want it to be resolved, although you live miles away. I heard you say again and again, you want us to find a solution, but not to impose it on us. I heard you say, that you want us to choose our own path.
The only thing that was missing in your inspiring statements was the recognition of the inequality in this conflict. Once again, I belong to the more powerful side, and once again, I can feel the pain of the other because in a different circumstance, I could have been the one who would feel the injustice on her skin.
I am here tonight to take responsibility – but also to invite you to take responsibility with me. It seems to me that you have not forgotten the role of the American nation – being so powerful and influential. Your power entails the ability, and the responsibility to aid in shifting and shaping ideas and policies around the globe.
Tonight, I need your help. I need you to be the voice that recognizes the great injustice that has been happening for many years, and that you have the ability to contribute, as one of the most powerful nations on earth and in history, to make the necessary changes in the reality of two suffering peoples. ”
….”You can hardly imagine the physiological and mental consequences the children suffer during and after the detention. What does it do to Palestinian families, friends and communities. The effect of these misguided Israel policies ripple down through four generations and are the guarantee that there can never be a better future. These kids will carry In their hearts and soul fear, sorrow and more than that, they grow into angry young men and women fueled with the desire to restore their dignity by any means necessary. As the saying goes, if you sin against children, you destroy hope and create a kingdom of despair.
NSL gives is all a chance to share our passion for what we want to see change in the world, But it also expects us to act on it, to become the change that we want to see in the world, as Gandhi said.For me, the rights of children are so fundamental, that any other discussion about occupation, or checkpoints, or freedom of movement are all part of the one cloth. If you treat children like this, where will it end?
For a people who have suffered so much, who have seen successive Jewish generatlons wiped out, I want to ask the question:
How can you sleep when a child is crying
how can you sleep when a child is dying
how can you sleep if a child who is born to be free is strip searched, humiliated, and intimidated?
How can we doom our children to be the victims of a military that acts out of fear, and yet tells us it is the most ethical in the world? ,
I don’t want anyone else to live through what my Dad had to endure, the loss of a son, and for no reason. I want you to join us in this campaign to save the children, to free the children, to rescue the children,from treatment that steals their innocence.
if the plight of these children does not move us, Israelis, Palestinians, Americans, all men and women of conscience, then I have to ask where is our humanity gone to? We must speak truth to power, we must speak for those who have no voice, and if we fail them, we fail the final test of our lives, which is to ensure that those who come after us bless us for the future we helped create, not curse us. ”
Every NSL Fellow has to come up with and begin to implement a Project for Change (PFC) NSL Fellow Ostath Khaled- who was denied permission to travel to the USA, is the shining example of how important this work can be, and what difference it can make. Starting tomorrow, Khaled assembles his 20 kids, orphans from the Gazan wars, for their second semester, two hours a day, 6 days a week, to give them story time in English,. and learning their a b c’s and to allow them to imagine a different world to the one that they have to endure every day.
Peter Fruhmann has taken the lead to get European support for Khaled. If any of WWSW team are interested in supporting this amazing and courageous work please email Khaled, email@example.com.
If the Church or Party or Club you believe in does not believe in you, why are you a member?
If the faith or ideology or sect you subscribe to does not really have any faith in you, why stay affiliated?
When we give meaning to something, we give it power. Sometimes it gives meaning back to us and makes us powerful in return. “We the people” endows our government with power, so it can protect our power to be citizens. We believe in a God that -we believe- made us in her image, She believes in us like we believe in her. We are little less than gods. That works. Power is created by being shared.
We vote for a workers party that will go out and vote for and advocate for us, raise the minimum wage, cut the taxes. Let Workers of the world unite. Give power to the Labor movement that will make us powerful. That works.
But Sometimes it does not. We end up giving our power away by giving meaning to something that does not give meaning back- Women join a church that does not allow them equal rights. Gays join a community that thinks they are sick. Workers vote for a party that connects to their anger but will do nothing to further their cause, raise wages, create jobs, offer maternity leave.
The transaction between meaning and power is interdependent. If I give something meaning, that means it gives meaning back to me, meaning from which I can draw purpose or direction or inspiration. If I give meaning or significance to that which demeans, belittles, lies or humiliates me, then I am giving my power away. I am handing my fate into the hands of someone who will use me.
I can take my power back when I decide to make meaning for myself, and not have someone else use cliches and horror headlines that pretend to speak for me, but only incite without insight.
When the feelings are so strong and the facts are so thin, we tend to fill in the gaps to fit the feelings, not the facts. Fast brain recruits slow brain to get lazy -referencing Daniel kahneman.
Using leaps of the imagination to fit a story logic..”.I feel so threatened, so you must be threatening me. ” ” I feel so paranoid, so people must hate me.” We fill in the gaps with feelings.
The feelings move in a milli.mico second while reason is that train that is always late to arrive so we are always looking for an alibi after the crime.
These reflections??? arise after mediating…trying to..noise complaints in our condo community. The noise was the evidence… they said… of deep hatred!!!!but they know nothing about each other save she is African American and older and she is Latina and young. 2 lovely people.
How inventive our brains are…long on feelings. short on facts, we recruit our imaginations to make us look good even when we know we are being bad or not as pure as our stories make us out to be. The first sign of guilt, as any cop knows, is the claim to be immaculately innocent. ” Me? With a gun? I thought it was a pencil. I wasn’t pointing at you officer I was drawing. Thats why they call me a quick draw.!!!!
NSL Alums at American University- THEY STARTED A WAR !!!!
We set the class an activity which was to spontaneously enact a war, in the land of Blumfenstan- between North and South, and when Channel 2 reporter Daniel asked them why, they said it was because the North had nuclear weapons and the South said, they did not, that they were only defending themselves and resisting the South stealing their oil.
The State Department condemned the violence and said please play nice, and the UN team quoted proposition 237A from the Security Council that ruled against any nation whose name ended in -stan.
The exercise demonstrated that:
Stories Cause Wars and
Wars Cause Stories that then
Cause more Wars that cause more Stories that cause more Wars.
There is a cycle.
Stories Cause Peace and
Peace causes Stories that then
Cause more Peace that cause more Stories that Cause more Peace
There is a cycle.
NSL is about seeking to interrupt the first cycle and begin to create the second cycle. Having NSL Alums, Gazan Karam and former Israeli soldier Daniel stand together and respect each others stories, and not hear blame or provocation is an example of the second cycle. I think the class got it. Thank you Professor Dan Whitman, you are a legend.
Just had an amazing board meeting tonight, I am treasurer so fact check me if I say that the photo below shows you the level of excitement board meetings usually ignite among members. Its all talk, nothing moves because nothing matters or because everything matters.
Except that tonight, we tamed the usual time theft and kept the tangent tourists from jumping on every band wagon. It was amazing- what usually takes a torturous 90 minutes was over in less than 30. Here is the trick and maybe others learned it before, and can share more: Why did I not think of this before, because its a BME model.
Reverse the time pyramid, don’t discuss and then decide, NO
1- BEGINNING Decide all that needs to be Decided, first up, Use Prime Time for your Prime Decision Energy. Only then
2- MIDDLE Move to what is Maturing to Decision and still needs Due Consideration. Determine at the end of 2, the time scale for when it will appear in 1 or if it is relegated back to 3- that way you make a plan for future meetings. You can track how a decision matures, goes from cold to hot or back. from 3 to 2 to 1. You are plotting a story that moves.
3-, ENDING Only then move to Discussion, ( its the last not the first) where you can go off like a cracker, let off steam, provide therapy, tell jokes, say how bad the Board is, etc if you have time, the business is done. At the end of 3, assess whether any of it needs to be elevated to 2 or to 1 for the next meeting or if it was mostly froth that will blow away.
4- EPILOGUE Summarize the dynamic of the meeting, what moved, as in what from 3 might need to go to 2 and what in 2 might need to go into 1 and what did we decide in 1 and if any decision made formerly in 1 needs more 3 next time Discussion or more 2 due consideration- ( in case the decision is not working out or needs more information.)
The steps are
1-decide what needs deciding and decide on it
2-condider what needs due consideration and consider it duly
3-discuss what needs discussion and discuss
4-Track what moved in the meeting.between 1 and 2 and 3 and plot the next meeting.
This creates a PLOT, and means Boards are not just Characters who are Audiences to their own Verbiage, it keep issues moving between levels and between meetings, so one can track progress, and you get a much more orderly, effective and efficient meeting.
Try it anyone…. and let me know how it goes. Maybe we just fluked it .