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So, in trying to follow this, I find myself asking if you are suggesting that people with "compatible" stories should come together to solve their (or some other groups) problems?

M.

I can find nothing in this post to argue with. I feel exactly the same way, myself.

Matt: I am suggesting that solving social problems requires an awareness of which stories lie behind positions, and a move away from imagining that solutions rely on "proving the true story".

Take my old friend Intelligent Design. This can be seen as a clash between "the Bible is true" and "science is true" - both stories that are highly suspect, but you can't easily dislodge them from those who hold such stories to be self-evident. So the question for me then becomes: how do you balance the needs of the people who hold these stories against one another, in a country where the former is marginally more prevalent than the latter?

One (unlikely) possibility is to permit some philosophy of science into the classroom - tell Popper or Kuhn's stories - then discussing Intelligent Design becomes a far more valid topic for science classes. The objection that "there isn't time" suggests that the scientific specifics are more important to teach than the philosophy, which I feel fundamentally misunderstands the role of a science class (which I would claim is to teach children *about* science, not to indoctrinate some version of science).

Similarly, the problems in Israel/Palestine could be attributed to an Israeli entitlement story "Israel has a right to be here" versus the Palestinian bitterness story "They took our land". Trying to change either of these stories is too difficult, so brokering peace requires new stories that are compatible with the prior stories - perhaps "We both have claims to this land, and thus we both must share the power and the responsibility".

Don't know if this clarified or obfuscated! :)

Deirdra: Thanks for taking the time to comment! Since most commenters do so because they are in opposition or requesting clarification, I don't often get the people saying "I feel the same way", and I really appreciate hearing it as it makes me feel less insane! :)

I really enjoyed writing this piece... it expresses in five paragraphs what previously would have taken me many thousands of words. I am aspiring to brevity, I'm just taking the long way around. :D

Have fun!

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