I Believe in Story

William - Bainbridge Island, Washington
Entered on January 14, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe in story

Stories can be fun, or frolic or amuse.

But, they are also nimble, tricky, malevolent, and …

well, you fill in the blank…

Some say, “If you own the story

then you hold the power.”

Others say, “Defining the story” is defining the future

and that subjugation is story killing.

What we do know is that every

individual, every family, every community

is defined by their stories.

And, If we don’t tell our stories

we lose our dignity,

our humanity,

our souls,

as in South Africa, under Apartheid;

as in the Yugolslavia, with Milosivic;

as in Cambodia, during the Khmer Rouge times

These particular stories teach us that

tyranny is story subjugation driven by fear.

Here’s how it works:

1. Keep them from telling the story.

2. Ignore the story.

3. Control the story by altering or editing it.

4. Romanticize the story

5. Simplify the story,

6. Trivialize the story

7. Buy, then sell the story

8. Kill the story

But, you know, stories do not die.

They morph and mutate

like love, like friendship,

like the blackberry canes and kudzu

that swarm the land and climb our fences

And you all know that story about friends and fences.

Good fences do make good neighbors …and…

good stories too.

And, of course, when those good stories migrate and join

at the intersection of self interest and common ground

those tall tale siblings

become democracy zygotes

Yes, Democracy is the art of collective story making.

Democracy says:

“Here is the story to this point—Let’s decide together what’s next.”

What we call “the arts” are the tools humans use to craft stories.

Words, music, movement, symbols, color, metaphors,

they all get into the act.

Untold stories are nascent shadows.

The shadow grows as the story is smothered,


That’s right, untold stories,

unpeeled stories,

unexamined stories,

left to fester

are very dangerous.

If you don’t examine and tell your own stories

Its hard to see yourself in the mirror and

it’s hard to know the truth.

Stories reveal humanity in all its frailty, power, ugliness,

passion …

you fill in the blank.

Some stories entertain, some reveal, others fanaticize.

Imagination is cold fusion,

generating more power than it consumes

as it chugs along raising the temperature

in the hot house of stories.

Privilege is the ability to manifest ones story, unabated,

to the exclusion of other’s stories.

Dignity is the unfettered capacity

to make and share stories.

If you have great material wealth

you can buy the story you want.

If your story holds great meaning

you can acquire power

out of proportion

to your material status.

Empathy happens when

I tell you my story

and you tell my story back to me

and I nod my head.

Improvisation is fishing for fugitive stories

New stories get born

when improvisation and imagination converge

bending time and space wide enough

for story sperms and the story eggs

to find each other and join.

But of course there are no new stories

And all stories are new

Some people say

Have a seat while I tell my story

Others say

Come on down while I tell someone else’s story

A few say

Give a listen while I tell your story

And some say

Stand up we have a story to tell

I say

Once upon a time…