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Narrative Warfare: Winners and Losers

February 9, 2015

Narrative Warfare: Winners, losers

As mentioned in the previous two narrative warfare posts (part 1 and part 2), our worldview is interwoven as our identity.  The narrative, or story, that drives our worldview is an integral part of who we are and how we view the world.  Narrative is rarely static, however, since we are constantly adopting and incorporating elements into our story all the time with every new person and new situation that we encounter.

However, when that identity or story is threatened, that is the seed of all conflict.

Think about it, what are all conflicts in essence?  Aren’t they disagreements or arguments between what seem like opposing sides?  From little misunderstandings to huge schisms, conflict happens because in some respect, one narrative feels threatened by the “plot twist” that another worldview brings with it.

The buzzwords hint at the battle lines: left/right, red/blue, believer/nonbeliever, extremist/moderate, liberal/conservative, Black/White, PlayStation/Xbox, Southerners/Yankees, Red Sox/Yankees.

Give me any conflict and I’ll show you a battle that really boils down to narrative.  Sure, on the surface, it may look like what divides the world are ideologies, beliefs, ideas, principles, morals, ethics, doctrines, creeds, faiths, theories, philosophies or any other world you want to throw out.  In my way of looking at it, when you get to the bottom of it, conflicts stem from an attack on the narrative that a person has adopted as their own.

These differences in story lines are the starting points that define who the “winners and losers” are in your mind.

“Winners and losers” in the figurative sense describe who has your support vs. the “other.”  We side, agree, support, and otherwise engage freely with the winners in our narratives.  As for others who don’t see things the way we do, I believe it was the great poet and philosopher Jim Carey who described loser best with his immortal words in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

LOO-HOO-ZUH-HER

LOO-HOO, ZUH-HER

Who are the winners in the real world?  That’s somewhat subjective, but winners can be the team you root for, the political party you vote for, the faith you believe in, the race you were born into, the culture which you grew up in, the shows you watch, the place you shop at, or the people you consider friends and hang out with.

Here is the main problem with this concept of winners and losers.  It naturally leads to alienation between you and the “other.”  It’s also hard for you to reach outside of your comfort zone to reach out to that “other”.  Worst of all, when something bad happens to the “other,” it’s easy to ignore or minimize their experience or even gloat at what’s happening.

The reality of the situation is this: it’s hard to build bridges and connect with another narrative we may consider inferior or threatening to our own.  Yet unless we find ways to bridge the divide between the narratives the exist in our world, there will always be winners, losers, and conflict in this world.

And with everything that’s happening in the world, I think you’d agree that what our world needs is more understanding and love, and less conflict and violence.

Next time in this Narrative Warfare series, we’ll look at a few real-world examples of this winner vs. loser struggle in today’s world, using an unlikely source: a Japanese comic book.

Next installment: Naruto and the Cycle of Hatred

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