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,
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.
“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,
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,
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
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
Once upon a time…