imagining justice

The exercise of imagination is dangerous to those who profit from the way things are because it has the power to show that the way things are is not permanent, not universal, not necessary. Having that real though limited power to put established institutions into question, imaginative literature has also the responsibility of power. The storyteller is the truthteller.

We will not know our own injustice if we cannot imagine justice. We will not be free if we do not imagine freedom. We cannot demand that anyone try to attain justice and freedom who has not had a chance to imagine them as attainable.

  • Ursula Le Guin, The Wave in the Mind

an alternative story

[Gareth Higgins and Brian McLaren have written a children’s story and companion book of essays on the need for a new story. This is quoted at the outset]:

Neither revolution nor reformation can ultimately change a society. Rather you must tell a new powerful tale, one so persuasive that it sweeps away the old myths and becomes the preferred story … one so inclusive that it gathers
all the bits of our past and our present into a coherent whole, one that even shines some light into the future so that we can take the next step…. If you want to change a society, then you have to tell an alternative story.

-Ivan Illich, as quoted in the introduction to The Seventh Story: Us, Them and the End of Violence.

how we respond

How we respond to [our children’s] stories carries more weight than any other form of moral instruction, and that is why we need to realize that the formal scope of “narrative theology” or “narrative ethics” necessarily includes the stories our kids tell us over dinner….

Ultimately, children develop the capacity for morally mature intimacy through our capacity or our willingness to offer such intimacy to them, such due regard, such kind but firm or clear-eyed critical respect. We offer that to them in part by the quality of our responses to the stories they tell.
– Catherine Wallace, For Fidelity

Around the table on Thanksgiving

[Thoughts from Parker Palmer that might make for a more pleasant time around the Thanksgiving table…]

How do we move from “the place where we are right” to a place where we can connect with each other across our lines of difference? Here’s one way: (1) Stop throwing our values, beliefs and opinions at each other as if they were weapons in a war of words. (2) When we come to a place of deep division, invite people to talk about the life experience behind their beliefs to help us understand our differences. (3) Remember that the more you know about another person’s story, the less possible it is to distrust or dislike that person. (4) Value having relationships over being right, and the result will be more that’s right. (5) Mutual understanding always trumps winning a verbal food-fight: it’s the grown-up way to go!