Opposing Narratives

Opposing narratives first came up at University when I was studying the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Israelis and Palestinians both believed themselves to be the victim, and in the right, seeing the other as the aggressor, the problem, the threat.

Their common history was all seen through this lens. Attacks were seen as defence. Defence was seen as attack.

Wherever I look at the moment I see this, disagreements between opposing narratives.

Conflict between the U.S and North Korea – the U.S sees North Korea as a terrible threat to world stability and peace who needs to be kept in check. North Korea sees America as a bully, interfering, a terrible threat to their very existence, ready to invade at any moment.

In America conservatives see black NFL players not standing for the national anthem as disrespectful to the country, the military, rejecting America. The liberals see it as peaceful protest against ingrained unacknowledged racial injustice in their country.

Guns are the problem. Guns are the solution. It goes on and on.

In Australia at the moment, liberals see marriage equality as liberating for the LGBTI community, moving the country forward with equality for all. Some conservatives see same-sex marriage as a potential threat to freedom of speech, or to rights of parents. They do not see it as an issue of equality at all.

We are simply not on the same page. We are seeing the same thing through two different narrative lenses.

When you can only see through your own narrative, you are missing the bigger picture. You don’t have to agree with someone else’s perspective, but as the old saying goes “walk a mile in their shoes before you judge them”.

I’m not saying all narratives are equal either, some are twisted and self-interested, and wrong. But where did this narrative come from? What beliefs or experiences has this person had that have contributed towards their view?

How can you have a conversation with someone if you can’t even address the narrative that motivates their point of view?

People’s minds aren’t changed by arguing or insulting. Things change when people come together and try to understand why someone disagrees with them.


Politics for Babies: Dual Citizenship

Mumma: Oh dear, another potential dual citizen in parliament bubba! The debacle continues. What’s a dual citizen? Well. I guess being a citizen means you belong to a country, and dual means two so dual citizenship means you belong to two countries. What’s a country? Wow, ok. It’s the place people live, it has borders, usually the people share a language, it has a government that looks after itself? Gee bubba this is getting philosophical. What is a country?! Solve that and you solve most of the problems in the world….

Politics for Babies: Australian Republic

Mumma: “oh bubba they are talking again about a vote for Australia to become a republic! It has been about 20 years since the last one. What’s a republic? Well it’s pretty much what we have now, but without the Queen. And probably a President instead of Prime minister. Oh, but you like the Queen? That’s ok Bubba, so does everyone else. Don’t worry, they’re going to wait until she passes the crown to Prince Charles, and then the republic vote will pass just fine.”

Politics for Babies: G20

Mumma: “G20! They’re having a big meeting in Hamburg, bubba. No, Hamburg is a place, we’re not having them for lunch. Meetings are when groups of people gather together in a room and sit around talking about things. It’s a bit like a family Christmas really. There are crazy Uncles like Trump, who are all ready to rub shoulders with the big guns, but nobody’s sure if him and Uncle Putin are going to crack open some beers together or end up in a punch-up out the back. They’re probably supposed to be talking about serious things like finance but really they just want to get together to have a good gossip about the latest outrageous thing estranged cousin Kim Jong-un has been up to. What’s that bubba? You want a hamburger? That probably was the most important thing, yes.”

Politics for babies: Twitter

Mumma: “Oh, that’s an interesting tweet from Trump. I wonder if it means what it sounds like it means. What do you think bubba? Tweet tweet? No, not like the bird in your book, tweet as in Twitter. Twitter. The social media site. What’s social media? Oh dear how do I explain this… well Twitter is a place on the computer where people write short messages that lots of other people can read and reply to. And they’re called tweets. No, I don’t know why they’re called tweets. Probably something to do with lots of incomprehensible noise all at once?”

Politics for babies: Brexit

Mumma: So much talk about Brexit. That’s a funny word isn’t it? Brexit! Brexit! It’s a bit like weet-bix, but not as delicious. You can’t eat Brexit. It’s actually more of a slang word. Slang for British Exit. Do you know what slang is? Well slang is when people make up words that aren’t really words. Yes, slang is pretty much all you do right now. Anyway as I was saying, Brexit is about leaving the EU. Britain’s not really in Europe anyway, let’s be honest. What’s that? Yawn? Baby thinks this is boring? Time for a bexit from this conversation.