stories of self

Too often, the world we see portrayed on our screens is not the world we see around us in our daily lives. We see people who appear to be impossibly different than ourselves, who embody beliefs and values we find detestable. We see people who are dealing with conflicts far distant from the ones we’re dealing with. Or we see only the “newsmakers,” those removed from the average person by virtue of their economic, social, or political position.  

Some moments, it seems there’s two different worlds: the one I’m a part of and the one comprised of the rest of the world. Some may say that this division is no cause for concern, that we need not occupy ourselves with how foreigners or those in power see the world. Yet in saying this, we make a significantly flawed assumption: that we know ourselves.

In dismissing others, we dismiss ourselves. In dismissing the stories of others, we embrace a laziness that challenges our ability as individuals and communities to grow. We excuse ourselves from the school of life. We embrace the idea that news is nothing more than noise whose only effect is to clutter our already burdened minds. 

However, it’s often that I find myself in this mindset and it’s true that there’s merit in stepping away from the endless maelstrom of news that jockeys for our attention. Yet, to do so entirely, throws out our hope of growing together as a people. We need a greater degree of self-reflection. I do however, harbor a degree of aversion to anything falling into the self-help category. Perhaps it’s because of an association with being gimmicky or perhaps it’s because it smacks of a focus on “me” at the expense of the rest of the world. We need a marriage of the two. 

In dismissing others, we dismiss ourselves.

We need a greater degree of self-reflection but within the context of the wider world. We have the ability to learn a great deal about ourselves through looking at other people. Hearing the stories of others affords us an opportunity to see that which comprises our own character.

It’s often the case that the things that drive us mad about others are the things we dislike most about ourselves. There’s immense value in highlighting the character traits in ourselves that we can’t easily see on our own.

We have much to learn about ourselves through the stories of others.

thoughtsNick TheisenComment