It’s a sobering realization that all we know are just the stories we make up in our head. To be sure, much of it is based on interactions with what we perceive around us. We take in waves of light, sound, taste, feel, smell, (and whatever other sense we have that makes us look back at people who are looking at us). But then we make a story of it. The dress is orange. The grass is soft. What we call reality is merely the stories we all agree on.
But the stories are only descriptions, and descriptions are vague or specific or language dependent or culturally dependent or incomplete or poorly communicated or even partly or wholly wrong. Every world in every head has errors and shortcuts and deep truths and deep lies. But that’s just part of the human experience. It’s not even the important part of this article.
The important part is that we can enter into each other’s stories. They say the world is “polarized.” That only means we have large groups of people telling themselves different stories. I shouldn’t minimize it. Every war is a story war. But there’s another way to enter each other’s stories and fight outside of violence.
What’s the “other side’s” story? The only way to win an argument is to argue from within that narrative. That means knowing the narrative. Sometimes that means knowing it so well you let “their” narrative affects you. Then we can fight. Then we can compare stories, science, experience, and emotion. And, as a pleasant side effect, it can also improve our own story, even make us wiser. May the best stories win… and may they get better.