I thought I’d end my “guest” days with an encouraging word or two. And I’ll do so by responding to the most common question that’s been in my inbox over the past few months, which goes something like “does everything just suck? Are we doomed to stupidity and fundamentalism and fascism?” And my answer - Smithly speaking - is no.
Fascism and fundamentalism depend on people surrendering their perspectives - the narratives they’ve developed - and letting someone *else* write the story for them. Whether it’s churchgoers surrendering their understanding of God to the minister, or voters surrendering their understanding of civics to Karl Rove, the loss of access to one’s own storytelling ability is akin to losing one’s grip on reality.
That’s right: maintaining authority over the story *is* maintaining a connection to the very engines of creation. Everyone has a story, as Larry likes to say - that doesn’t mean every person’s story is interesting to every other person. But it does mean that every person has a right to his or her own story - one’s own way of connecting the dots, understanding the passage of time, and recognizing the patterns that emerge.
Too many of us are willing to deny ourselves the right to that narrative, or too ready to believe our own version of the story is just not as important, accurate, or relevant as those of some external authority. (Just because people pay to watch some story, or vote for its hero, doesn’t mean it’s any more true than yours.)
So my word of hope is this: as long as you can tell your own story, it means *their* story hasn’t yet been locked down. It means there’s still hope, still possibility, and still life.
Enough of me. Here’s to your stories.