Stories Unite, Stories Divide

It’s a day with no classes for the Latin Family at both District Q and District Y, the first day of a much-needed four-day weekend for them.  The Dog and I had a leisurely breakfast, and then I continued working on the new, updated Tres Columnae Project site.  If you visit, you’ll find all of the stories you’d expect in Lectiōnēs I – IV, and you’ll also find some new stories that have never been published before.  There’s a Fabella in Lectio Prima that was always there in the draft, but somehow escaped everyone’s notice … and if it hadn’t been for the “site disaster” last week, I never would have realized that.  It introduces some important vocabulary and structures that have confused Latin Family members at times … and now I know why they were confused!  There’s also a new Fabella introducing Ridiculus and his family in Lectio Secunda, a “new” family in Lectio Tertia, and a new Fabella in Lectio IV that introduces Flavius Caeso and his family.

Most of these stories aren’t actually new, but they haven’t been published on the site before.  As I re-read the early Lectiones with new Latin Family members each year, I often find gaps or unexpected difficulties … and the best way to clear those up is usually to make a new story.

These “new” stories, and some others that will “just happen” to appear as we go forward, are stories that unite.  They fill in gaps, or they preview new grammatical forms, or they introduce important new vocabulary in a less-complex way than the “old” stories did.  Stories that unite are important, and I’ve been thinking about them during this election week.  But there are also stories that divide, and I’ve been thinking about them, too.

And sometimes the story that unites and the story that divide are actually the same story.  I realized that today, and that’s one reason I’m writing this post a bit later than usual.

When I was a child, I learned a story that unites.  It was about how, in the United States, we could disagree politically, but we would still respect each other.  It had sections about putting aside your personal wishes and doing what was best for The Country or The Greater Good.  I loved that story, and I sought out stories that confirmed it.  The school library “just happened” to have a whole series of Biographies for Young People; if you’re my age, you might remember the blue-and-yellow covers and the list of subjects ranging from George Washington to Crispus Attucks to Florence Nightingale.  There were more in the same series at the Local Public Library, and I think I might have read all of them.  Almost always, Our Hero became part of a diverse community, saving the day by reconciling those who seemed hopelessly at odds with each other.

Or at least that’s how I remember the books.  It’s been a long time, and a quick Google search didn’t take me to anything I recognized.

But during this deeply divided Election Week, I realized that stories that unite can also be stories that divide.  I have friends on all sides of the political spectrum, so my Facebook feed was filled with a mixture of misery, anger, triumph, and gloating … but it definitely wasn’t filled with the sense of diverse community and reconciliation that those old biographies would have implied.  I’m not sure there ever really was a time when stories that unite ruled the day … but even if there was such a time, stories that unite usually unite “us” in a sharp contrast with “them.”

It strikes me that, in American politics today, there are groups with a very strong story that unites them.  “Take back Our Country,” some say … and obviously, in that story, there’s someone who’s “taken” it from “us” wrongly.  “Tolerate everybody except intolerant people” … that’s another uniting story for some.  I know a lot of people who think facts and figures will win arguments and elections, and I have a feeling that many of them were disappointed this week.  Facts and figures are important, but they’re not as powerful as a story that unites … especially when that story that unites identifies a Common Enemy and a way to defeat them.

I’ll be finalizing grades for the Latin Family this weekend, and I’ll also be continuing to rebuild and enhance the new Tres Columnae Project site.  As I do, I’ll be thinking about stories that unite and stories that divide.  A joyful learning community needs both, but I think a healthy community focuses more on the uniting than the dividing most of the time.  I wonder what other insights, discoveries, and stories await in the days and weeks to come.

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Published in: on November 6, 2014 at 9:26 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] the task of rebuilding the story is different.  As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve discovered a number of stories that we never published before, and I’ve also […]


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