Saturday, December 19, 2015

Swamping Stories

Making mistakes is the way we learn. Making mistakes repeatedly is the way we go insane. One of the exciting things about Driverless Cars is that they are going to be able to share mistakes. One car goes through a pothole, they all know where it is. Writing, history, culture, stories, art, science and coffee shops let us share in each other's learning process. If we choose to listen, we gain access to the cumulative knowledge of people, nature and time. If we choose to focus on the constructive, new information, that challenges us when we hear people. If we build on what people say rather than shooting it down.

It amazes me how easily we are able to shift anything that happens to be further evidence in support of our view. This year's hashtag conversations #RhodesMustFall, #FeesMustFall, #ZumaMustFall, #MustFallMustFall, #BlackLivesMatter, #MarriageEquality, #JeSuisCharlie, #IStandWithAhmed, #RefugeesWelcome all provided an opportunity for people to twist the conversation to whatever their usual area of focus is. The doesn't mean the area of focus isn't important. It is just a little like someone who always manages to respond to a story with, 'Oh, that is exactly what happened to me when... and this is how you should handle it.'

Part of why I call this blog Swart Donkey is because I am stubborn, ignorant and arrogant. But I am trying. I work quite hard at continual self improvement. Not huge life altering changes. But little nudges of where I might be missing the point. Getting a little fitter. Eating a little better. Being a little less defensive. The one thing work on very hard, that doesn't come naturally, is to follow a Theatre Sport style of discussion.

In Theatre Sport, you need to go with the flow. You need to build on what people say. If someone holds up a banana and says, 'En Garde!', you find the nearest fruit to be your sword. If you say, 'But that is a Banana weirdo.' The conversation ends. There is a lot of information in peoples stories. The stories are far more interesting than the holes in the stories. Everything has holes. You need to give people space to make their point despite the holes. I call this a 'Bull Quota'. Great movies stretch reality, but not to the point of breaking. In stepping out of a holeless world, they can make analogies and help us ask beautiful questions.

Stories are beautiful. Our stories are beautiful. But we need to allow people to tell their story without swamping them with ours.

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