Reflection on the Narrative 4 GIP Event & Global Empathy
I completed the training to become a Narrative 4 facilitator during Poly’s first story exchange in early 2021, and I recall my profound admiration of N4’s noble mission. Moving from discord and apathy to understanding and action becomes more relevant every day with global conflicts constantly intensifying, and it seems only universal agreement on our common humanity can unravel the knot of hatred.
In our world of bitter polarization and inflammatory media, Narrative 4 aims to act as an opposite force, promoting empathy and compassion. In our world of desensitization, Narrative 4 aims to personalize conflicts by facilitating exchanges between people of different backgrounds. In our world of hostility and distrust, achieving mutual understanding is the only way forward. If we emphasized with one another, so many hurtful policies would transform into ones benefitting global progress.
Even though I recognized the vitality of this mission, I admit that Narrative 4 fell to the back of my mind soon after Poly’s school-wide story exchange. With all my school work and personal struggles, I went from being inspired by a global cause to again being absorbed by my own bubble.
Many of us attend a talk, volunteer at an event, read an article, have a conversation, feeling inspired and intrigued for a fleeting moment. That fleeting moment of awe and inspiration often ends the instant we return to the reality of our own lives, realizing we have to fight our own battles first.
We lose sight of a greater goal that seems so abstract and unattainable in the context of our own, very real, personal struggles. Everyone deserves to prioritize themselves, but we often hold the false belief that personal and global issues are incompatible.
If we only profess to support a cause but do not take concrete action, we begin a cycle of hypocrisy. If we vindicate a mission in our minds but do not advocate for it in our daily interactions, we accomplish little change. We obviously cannot dedicate time to every single cause that we identify with, but we can advocate for our values in smaller ways.
For example, all of us interact with polarization and hatred every day, and we can integrate Narrative 4’s global philosophy into this facet of our personal lives. If I focused on avoiding polarizing media, I would actively benefit my own happiness and contribute to a global cause.
Because Narrative 4’s mission is so important, however, I hope we at Poly can contribute more than just subconscious support. The GIP presentation demonstrated the impact of Narrative 4’s ideology in our digital world of bitter polarization and inflammatory media. The case studies at schools involved with Narrative 4 provided valuable examples for what Poly could do.
More specifically, I think N4’s story exchange has the potential to create a sense of empathy among different people and cultures, much more so than any political or media campaign. The story exchange can work on a large scale while still maintaining interaction with real people; this personal exchange, along with storytelling, truly creates empathy among people with radically different backgrounds.
Many in our world today, however, are not open to the story exchange philosophy. In the small group settings, facilitators can work to build a sense of purpose, community, and mutual consent. On a broader scale, those who agree with Narrative 4’s approach have a responsibility to represent it. Only if we perpetuate empathy and understanding in our daily lives can we achieve true change.
To end, I’ve realized that between my first experience with Narrative 4 and the recent Poly N4 GIP event, I gave much less thought than necessary to global understanding, arguably the most important issue for the future of humanity. This time, I hope to keep the insights of the three speakers at the GIP event fresh in my memory, and I hope we’ll be able to more deeply employ the story exchange here at Poly!