How stories are used to create understanding and community
Do you remember the story from your childhood that you begged to hear over and over? Would you be able to recite that story today?
As children, we are captivated by the power of story. We live through them, learn from them, and tell them. We’re told fairytales by our parents and read stories, both real and fictional, at school. As we grow older, we learn to create our own stories and share them when creating whole worlds while playing with our friends. We begin to test what stories can do when we tell our first lie and learn how story can unite people when we experience our first tragedy. A child armed with an imagination can encounter story wherever they go, but as we continue to grow older we often forget the importance of sharing stories.
There are many different types of stories, and ways of sharing them. Story can be written down, said aloud, or even simply experienced. Storytelling is all around us and in everything we do. When meeting someone new, parts of each of our stories are exchanged. With every new encounter and experience, we add to our stories, subtly rewriting them by adding new chapters. We even invent stories for strangers as a way to explain their actions to ourselves. Though their power may be forgotten as adulthood is reached, we are still creating these stories every day, whether or not we are cognizant of it. It is our duty to take the next step to then share these stories with the world.
In the distant past, before we wrote down our stories, we told them to our children who later passed them on to their own children. It was how cultures and traditions were passed down. Eventually, when we began transcribing our histories, they were passed on in books and literature. Today our stories unite us with our ancestors, connect us to the next generations, and help us feel connected in our current communities.
Unfortunately, today we live in a world in which many people allow stories to separate, and we are often unwilling to bridge those divides within our communities. We confine ourselves to the people and places we know, and rarely venture out of our comfort zones to engage with new stories and ideas. This is partly because we make ourselves the stars of our own stories. They are the stories we know best, and the comfort we feel in the familiarity of them often clouds our desire and ability to hear the stories of others. However, to become a stronger community we must be willing to come together and support one another, intentionally sharing our stories.
We must do this because stories are a powerful way to create connections even in the midst of our differences. When we share our stories and allow ourselves to truly listen to others’ stories, they cause us to think differently about a particular topic. It is through story that our preconceived notions are challenged and new beliefs created. In fact, we often use story rather than facts to strengthen our arguments because they are more memorable and more easily seen as relatable.
As individual stories continue at times to cause division within our community, we must look to our past to reignite the passion of sharing them as a means of creating unity. At Cultivate, we believe in the power of story to do just that. Without the ability to tell stories, we wouldn’t be human, and without the ability to share our stories, we are not a community. We must remember what it felt like to be children and share our stories freely, and honestly and open-mindedly listen to the stories of others. Join our community today and share your story, and help us to together build a stronger community.
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