Change the Narrative: The Expression that Falls Short of Conscientious Action
Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems that the expression, “change the narrative,” is fast becoming a common cliché instead of a call to action. I’ve found that depending on the person, the expression is often verbalized to refute criticism regarding an issue. No person wants to be criticized, especially when they are affiliated with the subject matter under scrutiny in some manner or context. It’s human nature. Although it is necessary to differentiate constructive criticism and destructive criticism, given the positive and negative effects associated with each concept.
Constructive Criticism is the kind of criticism that identifies a flaw or short-coming and is cushioned with insightful advice and compassion. The goal of constructive criticism is to build character, lift up, develop, improve, and restore. It is the kind of criticism that an individual receives from an attentive manager, who wants to develop him or her beyond their current capabilities and performance. We can all benefit from improvement in certain personal or professional aspects of who we are and what we do.
Destructive Criticism is the type of criticism that identifies a flaw, short-coming or imperfection with the intent to belittle, defame, discredit, or destroy a person. Destructive Criticism originates from a source of ignorance, envy or hate, and is malicious. People, who deliver hurtful criticisms, not only ignore the impact thereof, but proceed with the goal of esteeming themselves. Have you ever had a manager, family member, friend or associate, who criticized anything that you did, and never offered encouragement, support, or a solution? These are examples of destructive criticism.
I can’t recount the number of times that I’ve read the headlines of people (i.e., celebrities, public figures, etc.) and social media users destructively criticizing someone or a group of people. Then there are the various fan bases or supporters that fuel the fire through expressions of ignorance and hatred. These are the same people, who will join a platform/forum and state that perceptions regarding certain groups or classifications of people must change. How does change occur when ignorance and negativity are its opposition? You cannot liberate a generation when you stand with the oppressors or choose neutrality.
The news outlets report crime at what would appear to the uniformed, an increasing phenomena when the reality is that technology captures and transports the information real-time, enabling the data to be virtually accessible anywhere, anytime. When associated demographics are discussed, related groups become defensive about the subject. I’m here to tell you that racial perfection is nonexistent. Both the FBI and Bureau of Justice Statistics databases document crime rate percentages for all races.
Socio-economic studies report the relationship between poverty, lack of education and the prevalence of crime.
The absence of resources in under-performing economies in conjunction with systematic oppression, sustain poverty. Systematic oppression also pertains to education—systems where funding is decreased or terminated by the government. Education is particularly critical in the area of mental illness, since an informed mind is necessary to understand the symptoms of psychological dysfunction, mental disorders, and when to seek clinical treatment.
Moreover, the impact of single-parenting, absent or uninvolved parents, abuse (including sexual abuse), rape, violence, alcoholism and substance abuse on human behavior and development should be underscored. Given public opinion and nonchalance regarding these subjects, it is apparent that ignorance survives until a critic becomes a victim. Some people wonder why sexual promiscuity or dysfunction, deviant behavior, or addiction persists, but do not know that the exhibiting individual was raped or abused.
The dynamics of psychological phenomena must be observed within the contexts that they occur. Otherwise, critics are incompetent to provide counsel to narratives in which they possess mere surface knowledge.
An effective approach to changing the narrative:
The most important step in an executing an approach is acknowledgment. Acknowledge that a problem exists, rather than deny the prevalence of the issue. An issue cannot be resolved through denial. Change is preceded by admittance and is achieved by the conscientious desire to create a different outcome.
Identify the symptoms of the problem. School dropout and crime rates, teen pregnancies, abuse, starvation, and homelessness signify socio-economic issues.
Define the problem. What is the problem? What happened?
Discover the source of the problem. In other words, identify the specific factor(s) contributing to the issue. Sometimes, the problem is multifaceted.
Determine the appropriate resolution for the problem. This step requires decisions regarding an applicable intervention and implementation approach.
Evaluation and Involvement. It is not enough to simply implement an intervention. Post implementation, evaluation is crucial to determining whether the intervention is successful—achieving the goal, or modifications are needed. Furthermore, change agents are essential to driving sustainable change. Anyone possessing a wholehearted desire to effect positive change can serve in the community and the society at large as a change agent.
Simply narrating a different story is fake news, because a problem remains.