Julianna Moock Quillen Lecture 9/3 Commentary

Within President Quillen’s lecture on September 3rd, the importance of storytelling became especially clear. During such a time of violent political discourse, it seems as if some issues are irreconcilable, as if common ground will never be found. Quillen’s appeal to entertain multiple stories, to view one’s own narrative as merely a tangent in an unpredictable future could help deter individuals from viciously attacking anyone with a different story. While she stated storytelling can be a bridge between adversaries, possibly a more vital asset for harmony is the ability to listen to those stories. Quillen mentioned that perhaps we could view humanity as our ability to share these narratives. However, I am still left with questions regarding the ways in which we construct humanity. She stated that we have an “obligation” to listen to other’s stories. In this regard, I am left wondering: Is our humanity a commitment we make to each other, or a condition forced upon us from birth?

Although questions will always remain about the nature of humanity, Quillen’s thoughts on storytelling as a means of honest communication reveals an optimistic future. A future in which we may view those different from us like philosophers of centuries past: alien and exemplary.

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