We cannot create a world we can’t imagine and stories are the engines of our imaginations.”
… If our culture is a function of the stories we tell each other, then real change demands that we begin telling a new story.
The cultural historian, Thomas Berry, argued: “We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The old story, the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it, is no longer effective. Yet we have not learned the new story.” In fact, in many cases I think we aren’t even asking the right questions, which might reveal that new story.
Peter Forbes of the Center for Whole Communities argues that if we don’t tell our own stories about our relationship to the land, to each other, to the world around us then:
“There is increasingly one dominant story to hear and one story to tell. The developers, the clear cutters, the advertisers will be left to enact their simple story: money is more important than life…. Stories help us imagine the future differently. Telling stories is our best hope of reflecting the kind of world we want to live in and, therefore, gives us a hope of creating it.”
… storytelling is not passive. It’s active, it’s powerful, and it’s full of meaning. Storytelling is a form of engagement with the world around you, and it can change hearts and minds as well as policy. We cannot create a world we can’t imagine – and stories are the engines of our imaginations.
“Our narratives transcend fact, for they are formed from the delicious emotional nuances of sensation: sound, smell, moods, sensuality, taste, color, shadow, texture, rhythm, cadence, tears, laughter, warmth, and coolness all experienced here, at a place on this earth.” ~ Robert Archibald.
… long-time community organizer Chuck Matthei argued that “facts, opinions, and value statements push people apart, stories bring people together.” When you tell stories people try to see themselves in the story; they try to relate to it.
Stories articulate values that are contingent on multiple meanings, and are created in the space between articulation and interpretation. They are roomy and accommodating, whereas facts are confined and exclusionary.
Michael Margolis: “Storytelling empowers, because it escapes the need to claim absolute truth.” Similarly, Hannah Arendt suggests that “Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.”
“Telling stories conveys the emotion, meaning, and power of land conservation’s mission. Telling stories is our best hope of reflecting the kind of world we want to live in and, therefore, gives us hope of creating it… And, as conservationists, we must tell these stories because they are growing more and more rare… Without these stories of connection and relationship, there is increasingly one dominant story to hear and one story to tell. This is the story where the point of trees is board feet, the point of farms is money, and the point of people is to be consumers, and the point of other species is largely forgotten. In failing to tell a different story, we fail to express what we really love.” ~ Peter Forbes.
Technology has put more and more media tools in the hands of people, at the same time that policy is putting more and more control of the media in the hands of a few powerful corporations. It’s a troubling paradox that while the tools to make media are growing more and more accessible, control over the media itself is narrowing further and further.
“Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives—the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change—truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.”
In his book on leadership and storytelling Michael Margolis wrote:
“Leaders lead by telling stories that give others permission to lead, not follow.”
We might extend that notion and seek to lead in ways that give others space to tell their own stories.
Part of telling a new story has to be telling it in new ways.