Just the last few weeks, I’ve had the chance to read “Humanity” by Jonathan Glover. It’s quite a dense book, lots of history, lots of philosophy and requires a good amount of reflection nearly after every paragraph. This afternoon as I was sitting in my grandmother’s house, I picked up the book, opened to a random chapter and began a few hours of nerdy-ness.
Because the content of the book is so dense, I decided to jot down quotes that I felt required a second thought. The following jumped out at me,
“Narratives of defeat bring the desire to redress a grievance: the bent twig. Narratives of victory can have a triumphalism, which stirs resentment in those on the other side.
They also contribute to the belief trap. The narrative is the background against which new acts are judged, making it harder to accept the genuineness of gestures of friendship, and making the hostile interpretation more plausible.”
Our life is full of self-created narratives. Every event adds on to our story, it has the power to change us, it helps us mature. Not until I read the above quote did I think about how every event is a narrative of Defeat or Victory; whether it be a game against other people, or a struggle within yourself.
In this particular context, it’s talking about defeat and victory between people; friends, family, strangers. The last sentence of that quote is true of our every day lives. We begin to judge someone, positively or negatively, from the experiences we have with him or her.
Once something has happened, there is no turning back and interactions in the future have been affected. I’m afraid to say I am experiencing such with my extended family currently. It has nothing to do with me personally, so being a third person watching it, it’s quite heart breaking to see the family so-to-say fall apart because of a series of events in the past. Holding grudges gets old, talking about it day after day gets tiring, starting from scratch and building new narratives are the only way to change. Sadly, that doesn’t happen very often.
As Glover puts it, every new act is judged. Unfortunately, negative acts are exaggerated and positive acts are doubted. I am sure I speak for many people when I say; sometimes we wish we could turn back time and write a different ending.
Every day new stories are still being written and who knows, maybe a series of positive acts will make things right. We have to keep our head up and hope for the best.