Character is built in the course of our inner confrontation, and it is constructed over years and years of struggles and failures.  To be a man or woman of character is to battle, to wage war within the soul, and to fight endlessly against thy Self.  Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchick refers to these two opposing sides of our nature as Adam I and Adam II.

Stories are filled with characters that embody this inward struggle, where the heroes are flawed, the villains redemptive, and the line that separates the two as thin as white lies.  Which is why we love these characters, connect with these characters, and find comfort in their stories, because they remind us of us.  They are both admirable and deplorable and everywhere in-between and around, just like us, which is why we forgive them and love them in spite. 

But how often do we extend such understanding to those in our neighborhoods, schools, and work places?  In government?  In family?  

How often do the flaws of others become their defining character rather than a hiccup?

Patrick Lencioni says it's because of The Fundamental Attribution Error.  He explains, "The Fundamental Attribution Error is the tendency of human beings to attribute the negative or frustrating behaviors of {others} to their intentions and personalities, while attributing {our} own negative or frustrating behaviors to environmental factors."  

This is one of the many reasons why stories matter, because they provide us distance.  Distance from the people who frustrate us (the villains) and distance from ourselves (the hero), yet face-to-face with human nature.   

Stories provide us an opportunity to evaluate the complexity of humans - our failures and successes, our self-control and erratic behaviors, our flaws and our glories; we relate to the hero yet sympathize with the villain; we learn that we too are fallible and our enemies redeemable.  

We learn to forgive, and to be gracious.