fascinating narratives from last week

Two incidents from last week deserve a bit of extended commentary. They are a mixture of current events, but they were serious. And sobering. I want to ensure we discuss them wisely and well. Yet before we dive in, allow me to extract one sentence from our most recent post, as it is eye-openingly relevant to today’s content mixture: “When we craft a desired narrative in our head, we reject any objective data or inconvenient question that competes with said narrative.”

In other words, when we have come to believe we know the why as to how aspects, events and information are connected — and every detail is then used as further supporting evidence — we dismiss any fact or opinion that either contradicts or broadens the narrative. It’s the root of why so many justify the silencing of dissent. While it would be presumptuous of any to suggest the justifier “can’t handle dissent,” it is reasonable to discern the justifier doesn’t want his or her narrative to be challenged.

We saw that in two sobering incidents. On Monday, a transgendered male (biological female), 28 year old intentionally shot and killed 6 persons at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee. All the facts are not known at this point (note: we aren’t always good at waiting for them), but we do know from what law enforcement has shared, that while no person was a specific target of the shooter, the church building was a fixed target. The shooter intended to kill Christians. 

Back to unflinching from the desired narrative idea, it’s been fascinating in the days since to watch how people position the story — what they emphasize, what they omit, how much empathy they offer, who they offer empathy for, how they speak of the victims, who they identify as victims, what political connections they make, and how different they discuss this incident in comparison with other school shootings or violent events. Clearly, even in the most horrific incidents, our desired narratives are in play.

Then on Thursday, former Pres. Donald Trump was indicted by a New York grand jury. It is the first time in American history that a former president has been charged with a crime. The charges are not public as of yet, but are expected to be unsealed when Trump is arraigned next week. The charges are believed to surround the former President’s alleged role in falsifying business records regarding hush money payments to a porn actress so that the actress would remain silent about their affair prior to him running for President.

Again we use the word “fascinating.” Remember that “fascinating” doesn’t imply a positive nor negative account. “Fascinating” simply means to be extremely interesting.

It’s therefore been fascinating in the days since how people position the story — what they emphasize, what they omit, etc. We hear the spectrum of response… from Trump who called it “political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history” to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi who said Trump will have the right “to prove innocence.” I am not a fan nor hater of either, but let me suggest that both are articulating desired narratives. My respectful sense is that Trump doesn’t really know what persecution is and Pelosi doesn’t understand the responsibility for judicial burden of proof. But alas, desired narratives are in play.

My desire is for our judicial system to be accurate, effective and fair. For all people. I don’t want any person inaccurately found responsible. I want the punishment to correlate logically with the crime. And I don’t want any creed, color nor political persuasion to serve as the underlying purpose. 

Is Trump guilty of the charges? Excellent question. And as we’ve seen in recent days, many on all sides think they know. I don’t. Maybe others have a closer seat than I do. Do I want Trump to be charged? That’s a different question. But again, what any of us want isn’t relevant. We should want our judicial system to be accurate, effective and fair.

“Want” is the key word no doubt…

To want… to feel a need for… to wish, crave, demand, or desire.

That’s the challenge with desired narratives. We want them to be true. But wishing, needing, and craving… demanding and desiring, too… they are not the same as what is true.

Here’s to allowing our narratives to be respectfully challenged… and to broadening our perspective along the way.