Sacred Soil

Narrative Theory & Ethics
September 12, 2012, 1:14 pm
Filed under: Things Someone Should Write About

I was at a conference yesterday where the facilitators led a fascinating conversation about narrative theory, it’s power, and how to harness that power to our own goals. They stated that they noticed that the progressive community had largely left this tool on the table, allowing others to set the tone and frame of our discourse.

I’m compelled to agree– though I fundamentally balk at the division created between the “progressives” and “others.” Usually such divisions are unhelpful. Which got me to wondering, how does this new attentiveness to the dynamics of narrative theory affect our ability to engage in discourse with those with whom we disagree?

My wondering is rooted in a concern that perhaps we get so committed to preserving our own narrative, that we fail to see the “other” as anything more than an opposing narrative to be countered. This may then have the effect of dehumanizing the other, and severing our capacity to build new and even more hopeful narratives.

Part of this wondering is inspired by how much I laugh when Jon Stewart points out the inconsistencies of Fox news reporters (and others). Their commitment to the narrative consistently seems to usurp the ethic of good reporting.

So, if you know of an article or book that explores the dynamics of narrative theory and ethics, I’d love to read it. How do these things co-constitute? Which should have higher priority? What are the consequences of privileging ethics over the narrative? What about the ethic of real inclusion, and a movement away from divisiveness?

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