Every Story Matters
Recently, I read the book Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown. The book was short yet deeply impactful. I wanted to write down every sentence and quote it later. Here’s a link to Goodreads quotes. One of my favorite concepts is that every story matters.
We can make every story matter by stopping dehumanization of people with whom we disagree.
“Here’s what I believe: 1. If you are offended or hurt when you hear Hillary Clinton or Maxine Waters called bitch, whore, or the c-word, you should be equally offended and hurt when you hear those same words used to describe Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway, or Theresa May. 2. If you felt belittled when Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters “a basket of deplorables” then you should have felt equally concerned when Eric Trump said “Democrats aren’t even human.” 3. When the president of the United States calls women dogs or talks about grabbing pussy, we should get chills down our spine and resistance flowing through our veins. When people call the president of the United States a pig, we should reject that language regardless of our politics and demand discourse that doesn’t make people subhuman. 4. When we hear people referred to as animals or aliens, we should immediately wonder, “Is this an attempt to reduce someone’s humanity so we can get away with hurting them or denying them basic human rights?” 5. If you’re offended by a meme of Trump Photoshopped to look like Hitler, then you shouldn’t have Obama Photoshopped to look like the Joker on your Facebook feed. There is a line. It’s etched from dignity. And raging, fearful people from the right and left are crossing it at unprecedented rates every single day. We must never tolerate dehumanization—the primary instrument of violence that has been used in every genocide recorded throughout history.”
– Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness
Everyone is a human, no matter how evil. She doesn’t give evil a free pass, instead, she asks us to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Meet wrong with right.
One of her insights was that every story matters. Your story, my story. She got to this conclusion through discussing black lives matter, blue lives matter and why those campaigns are important. One does not negate the other. People who have been systematically oppressed for generations need a channel through which to fight for inclusion. People who are the target of violence need a voice.
Here’s a website that takes this concept further. “Speaking your heartfelt truth is deeply satisfying, both to do and to witness. And, paradoxically, it’s that sharing of yourself that lets us all feel more connected.”
In the end, how do we live our authentic selves while not opening up to abuse? It’s a tough question and I would argue that the answer is simple but the execution is hard.
Listen more. Criticize less.
Listen to learn. Try to understand the other person’s point of view before passing judgement.
Criticize less. Even if you don’t agree with the other person’s decision, try not to think less of them. Acknowledge every person as a human being. Respect their right to make their own decisions. If they ask for help, then offer. Try not to be the savior.
When you do share or speak, come from a place of love and inclusion. Share stories that build up other people and show your authentic self.
Try to understand. Open yourself up to the process.
“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” ~Brené Brown
Find more artwork here!