This I Believe
I am a storyteller and I believe in the power of stories. As a teacher I present a story every day. Sometimes I read them. Often I tell them. When I tell a story, inevitably one child or another will ask me if the story is true. I always answer yes. They look at me with puzzled expressions when I tell them that all stories are true even if they are not real. But I believe this. The wildest, most imaginative story revolves around basic human characteristics, needs, and attributes that are recognizable to the reader or the listener.
I had a teacher who told stories. I remember this teacher better than I remember any other teacher I ever had. I remember his stories to this day. Sometimes he used stories to convey lessons, ideas and culture and sometimes I think he told stories for the pure joy of entertaining us with the richness of the spoken word.
Our stories are the tie that binds us to the past and the future. Stories strive to answer the most fundamental questions about our lives and our existence. Through time societies have used stories to convey their way of life from one generation to the next. Civilizations that lose their stories cease to exist. Once I mourned for all the lost stories that died with ancient peoples, peoples we may not even be aware existed. But I came to have faith in the realization that their stories are our stories. All over the world the themes and motifs of tales are duplicated as any ethnographer can tell you. I believe that ancient travelers took their stories with them and passed them on to new generations and new peoples until they reached me. Even when I make up a story it is not really new, but imagined from a long line of stories that exist within the human spirit.
Stories enrich our lives. Movies and television may be a modern day vehicle for passing on our stories. But there is something about the simple spoken word that causes, no forces us to go inside ourselves, to see, to exercise that vital human organ, our imagination. Children will listen to stories. Even the child with every technological devise, even the child who watches hours on end of television, even the neglected, hungry child will look up and listen to a story. This I believe.
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