I find the story of Scott McClellan (Bush's former press Secretary) to be a fascinating and sobering one. His new book, What Happened, is not the story I am talking about, per se. The story I am talking about is the story of a man wrapped in a story.
It seems to me that McClellan wants to be a good man and tries to be a good man by way of the virtue of trust. Trust is essential in relationships, as I have made mention of before, but without wisdom, trust is vulnerable to be the means by which someone is led down a road a great evil. Trust is vulnerable to the story it finds itself in.
McClellan made the case with Meredith Viera on the Today Show that he was essentially within a story, a narrative which was powerful and convincing. As I listened to him explain what it was like to be within that story - to be part of that story - I had compassion on him. He was so into the story that his trust of the narrative, his trust of the storytellers themselves really, clouded his judgment. In an effort to be good by way of trust, he found, upon further reflection, that he was actually evil by way of trust.
Naive? A dupe? Maybe, but I think it is more complex than that. He is trying to be a good man in the best way he knows. The story he kept hearing, the storytellers he kept listening to, were so believable that he believed them. Not believing them meant violating his own virtue. Not exactly a good place to be in.
He appears to be coming clean in this book. But I just don't think he is outside of the story. Oh, he may be outside of the Bush story, but he is now entangled in another unwholesome story. The publishing business has a narrative as well. I think he is trying to be good by telling his story, finally, but I believe the publishing narrative has sucked him in. He said on national TV that his publisher is not profit motivated. His publisher is his new storyteller. They most likely wrapped his book deal in all kinds of virtuous language. McClellan is doing good in the wrong direction once again.
But I have compassion for him because I must now reflect on the stories being told to me and who the storytellers are that I listen to. McClellan's story is everyone's story. Is there anyone who knows truth so clearly, so perfectly, so unbiased that they can bypass the way a story is told? Can anyone control for the bias of the storyteller? Can we even identify the storytellers in our lives - or do we just know things and know truth? I don't do this very well if at all. Do you?
This world is a place where at least a few truths exists and there is an onslaught of lies being told about the truth. Almost everything we hear, see, and experience is a story being told by a stroyteller. We are not only wrapped in layers and layers of narratives, we are writing a bit of our own, but probably less than we think we are.
Courage and wisdom are the keys to writing a truly honest narrative as opposed to parroting the narratives packaged by the storytellers out there.
I pray for this kind of courage and wisdom.