Everybody loves a good story, right? Hearing, reading, or watching a story unfold on a screen can quickly transport us mentally and emotionally, speeding our heart rate, making us gasp, smile, cry, or laugh out loud. We’ve all been there. Humans are wired for story.
From the 4,000-year-old Mesopotamian heroic tale “Epic of Gilgamesh” to today’s blockbuster screenplays and 5-minutes-ago TikTok posts, stories connect the listener to the teller. And there is power in those connections.
And yet, in the proximity of our everyday lives and our communities, obstacles often keep us from sharing our stories. Maybe we just don’t want to give up the time it takes to get to know someone at a personal level, preferring to keep our interactions transactional, simple, and superficial. Maybe we’re too inhibited to open up our lives to another person, uncertain of how it might change their opinion of us. Or we’re uncomfortable with the possibility of involvement in the messiness of someone else’s life. Or maybe we’ve allowed the stereotypes of things such as politics, social class, and race to take over, adhering to the mistaken belief that those things are all we need to know about another person instead of listening to the reality of their lives and who they are.
Could sharing our personal truth with others be a catalyst to building empathy, trust, and understanding? Could these ingredients lead to real change for a problem as tenacious as race relations? Could “story” be that powerful?