Pulitzer Power of Story Author Jane Smiley Says. . .

29 10 2008

Power of story, y’all. If you read here much, probably you consider yourself a lifelong learner and evolved education advocate, a Thinking Parent, perhaps home-educating or even a whole-life unschooler who knows better than to teach academics and enforce rules with fear, shame, hitting and the spectre of eternal damnation?

Then join Jane Smiley (and Snook!) in understanding the power of the human mind and real education, to help write a much smarter, more loving and happier ending for the horror novel America has been living through.

“Goodbye Cruel World” —

This is the world we have been living in for the past thirty years. In a week, we have a chance to leave this world behind.

If we look at our two candidates, the differences between them are stark. John McCain, who was raised by and accepts the authoritarian model, is evidently never at peace.

. . .Barack Obama . . .seems to have been reared in a non-authoritarian household, by a loving mother and loving grandparents. He thinks that the world is a rational place that can be understood and modified. His own family seems happy and loving.

. . . When we choose between these two men, we are choosing between two worlds — the world of ignorance, fear, manipulation, and cruelty, and the world of rational investigation, weighing of options, and planning. This world is a world where sexual preference is not such a big deal, salvation is not an eternal mystery, and life goes on. It’s a world where bad things happen, but there is no malign Godly intention behind them.

It is world that understands the temptations of human nature and attempts to deal with them rationally and systematically. Some of these attempts will fail, but on balance, not as many as have failed in the last twenty-five years.

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5 responses

29 10 2008
JJ

Btw, a couple of weeks ago we were doing presidential history here at home and Favorite Daughter came across something about (General) Dwight D. Eisenhower having been raised in a small pacifist church! I’ll see if I can find it again . . .

addendum: It was in Kansas mostly, called the River Brethren? I didn’t find what we’d seen before but did Google up a whole book online about his family roots and got to reading about all the generations, haven’t finished, but now I’m thinking all those brothers and no sisters might have influenced him the other way. 😉

Also the religion itself is said not to have stuck into adulthood with any of the boys. Apparently they did learn pragmatic moral values for the world of those days, within the “other-worldly” stories they duly memorized and recited back on Sunday.
“The boys might say that around the core of mystical nonsense was a good solid husk of common sense, and they shucked off the husk and threw away the core.” (pg.49, Soldier of Democracy)

30 10 2008
JJ

More power of story in new WaPo profile today, after Joe Scarborough spent the morning on MSNBC declaring McCain was the most hated and hating man in Congress — he’s a FIGHTER! — on both sides of the aisle, showing there’s no way John McCain is the president for these times. Reach across the aisles, heal broken trust and build relationships between estranged Countrymen, into One Country that puts us all into first place? He may wish he could but he can’t do it. No way, no how, no more dysfunction.

It was a glimpse at once of the campaign’s occasional dysfunction and of McCain’s reluctance to pull together a team riven at times with conflicts common to many campaigns, particularly battles over power bases and personal styles.

“Most things like that are handled fairly easily by campaigns and candidates, but John doesn’t like dealing with messiness in relationships — it just doesn’t get done,” a former staff member said.

30 10 2008
JJ

And his running mate would be no help in that relationship messiness. Polarizing power of story on his pitbull today:

Palin sees dip in popularity in Alaska, rest of nation
By R. A. Dillon
Published Thursday, October 30, 2008

WASHINGTON — Gov. Sarah Palin electrified the conservative base of the Republican party when she was first picked as Sen. John McCain’s vice-presidential running mate, but polls say she has become a polarizing figure since then in her home state.

Palin’s supporters regularly refer to her as the “most popular governor in America.” But while her approval rating remains sky-high among local Republicans, she’s lost the support of Democrats and independents who once formed a significant portion of her base.

“Before all this started, her approval rating was almost universally positive with independents,” said Ivan Moore, who often polls for Democrats. “She’s really taken a hit among Democrats and independents.”

Palin’s popularity with Alaska voters has dropped precipitously, from a high of roughly 90 percent this spring — long before she was selected to join the McCain ticket — to an approval rating now of around 60 percent.

30 10 2008
JJ

How’s this for disqualifying a ticket as bipartisan-equipped? (He shoulda picked Charlie Crist!)


McCain-Palin Campaign Snubs Penn State Prez:
Unwelcome at Palin Campus Event Because He’s a “Big Democrat”

. . .Some might say that makes it an odd time to snub the president of the state’s largest university. The school enrolls 40,000 students and counts a quarter-million alumni living in Pennsylvania alone.

“I welcome eminent visitors to our campus everyday, including lots of Republicans, but [the McCain-Palin campaign] didn’t want me to greet her or even attend the event,” said Spanier. . . .

3 11 2008
JJ

Why the candidates’ personal stories drive their beliefs and behaviors so powerfully, where they realize it themselves or not, remember this?

In broad outline, the researchers report, such tales express distinctly American cultural narratives, of emancipation or atonement, of Horatio Alger advancement, of epiphany and second chances. Depending on the person, the story itself might be nuanced or simplistic, powerfully dramatic or cloyingly pious. But the point is that the narrative themes are, as much as any other trait, driving factors in people’s behavior, the researchers say.

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