Narratives: The Shape of My World

When reflecting on this week’s topic, it was necessary to go back and define what the term Narrative meant before deciphering my own meaning of it. Narrative is described as “a story agreed upon by a group of people” (Arnett, 2009, p. 37). However, it can also be a term defined as the “story of one’s life” and although it encompasses a public story and the harbinger of human action, the personal story of each human is greatly influenced by the narrative or narratives of the world in which the public story is created. Narratives play such an important part in the “human story” because “Humans are essentially storytellers” and essentially “read and evaluate the texts of both life and literature(Arnett, et. al, 2009, p. 37). Without fully understanding how communications ethics in action “requires a dwelling place from which the good is articulated and then brought into persuasive engagement” it is easy to misunderstand or even dismiss the importance of narratives and I never really appreciated how much the narrative impacted my life until hitting adulthood (Arnett, et. al., 2009, p. 38-39).

Many narratives influence my daily life and dates from my childhood until now, which is largely dominated by the values which were instilled in me by family. Christian values are largely dominant and it very apparent that tradition can play a role how a narrative can shape an individual’s decision making and ultimately their worldview. In reflecting on the narrative that has greatly influenced my life, I am very mindful of that the communication ethic that has guided my life is not necessarily shared by other people, especially in my community and certainly in the world around me. Our text stated it well: “given communication ethic is not understood to guide action for everyone; each communication ethic lives within the narrative structure or communities of discourse that argue for the importance and value of a given set of communicative goods” (Arnett, et. al., 2009, p. 38).

An example of these implications noted above can best be described in how diversity shapes my life and my narrative. Residing in the state of Arkansas, many cultures have settled in the state over the years and therefore has transformed the cities and towns of the state across the board. Unfortunately, many residents have resorted to a negative view of the blending of the different ethnic groups and have even encouraged the separation and the lack of acceptance has clouded the narrative of the community. However, my view is somewhat different of that of my neighbors and friends. In my family, the Christian values and within the practice of Christianity, the development of friendships across races and cultures were encouraged. Mind you, not all Christians share that same view of acceptance and showing love of their fellow man; it very deceptive of Christ’s teachings when violence and segregation are promoted in his name, it is a false narrative breed from hate and intolerance.

An incident from my childhood is still vivid as I remember my family being outraged when an African-American family wanted to come to our church, and they were discouraged from coming back due to the color of their skin. My family questioned this of church leaders and were essentially ignored, a little later we found another place to worship, but years later, we all realized we should have immediately disassociated ourselves from that congregation but the narrative that shaped our Christianity that also influenced within me and my family was a more separatist view when it came to religious worship. In other words it was okay to associate with different races at work or school but not at church. Very narrow thinking but over the years, the “narrative” has changed; the values I outlined took on even a broader view and the simple truth is you cannot compartmentalize acceptance into different parts of life. That particular communication ethic applies to each aspect of life. Interestingly today, my parents are pastors of a congregation that is made of several different cultures and as an adult I visit this church frequently. Just last week before I fully engaged in the chapter topic, I was lamenting how these precious people would not have been welcome in the churches of my childhood, even today.

Therefore the narrative that guides me in my everyday decision making invokes understanding and appreciation of those with different upbringings and views. True love and acceptance does not necessarily mean “rubber stamping” every view or influence of that other culture. Ultimately, it is following my own moral compass that has been shaped by faith and experiences which have shaped the communication ethics practiced in my life.


Arnett, R.F., J. M. Harden  & Bell, L.M. (2009). Communication ethics literacy: Dialogue

       and difference. Los Angeles: Sage.



One thought on “Narratives: The Shape of My World

  1. Hi Rachel, A very interesting post and I am thankful for your viewpoint! I’m glad you’re working in higher ed where you can promote this narrative. 🙂 Nancy

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