Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for xenophobia

I’m participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge throughout April.
Monday - something light to start the week. A bit of self-care, creativity challenge or the like.
Tuesday - telling notes for a specific story or kind of story. Tips and tricks to help you think about what you're telling and how.
Wednesday - my usual #tellinglife post, looking at some of the more personal aspects of storytelling and its role in my life.
Thursday - a dip into some of the issues facing contemporary storytelling or a dive into some of the more unusual applications of storytelling.
Friday - my usual personal post about life following the death of my husband
Saturday - the storytelling coach offers a tip you can use right now. An example of the kinds of tools I encourage my students to use.

An unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange.

Annette Simmons has wisely said that Storytelling is an antidote to war. My friend and mentor, Brother Blue, believed that storytelling was the path to world peace because How could you kill someone if you know their story?

Storytelling strips the mask away from xenophobia. When we hear stories from people we consider foreign or strange we can choose to recognize our shared humanity or we can choose to embrace mindless fear and hatred. We can't do both. We must choose and we are revealed. It is in the stories that we find ourselves and our common ground so by listening we dare to set aside fear.

Shared stories break down boundaries. When we listen to folktales or myths from another culture we recognize our own. When we listen to someone tell stories about their life, their family, their hopes and dreams, we recognize ourselves. The U.S. military understands that we can change more hearts and minds through storytelling than we can with bombs or MREs. They have funded multiple studies that show over and over again how stories - told and heard - create empathy and change. More than guns. More than handouts. Stories give us a no man's land where we can find ourselves reflected in another's eyes. If the military gets it maybe we can, too.

Brother Blue's statement may seem over the top, but isn't it worth trying to connect with those we may find frightening before we lash out? Isn't it worth telling them a tale or two and listening to their stories first? What's the worst that happens if we try to set aside xenophobia and find common ground? War and prejudice can always be a second option. In this world, where it's so easy to make assumptions, where we're told we should be on the attack, taking the time to listen becomes a radical act.

Maybe storytelling can save the world. It's a least worth a shot.

(c)2016 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

1 comment:

  1. Worth a shot? Was that a pun? Play on words? I too am in that boat with you. Don't judge someone until you have walked in their shoes. Find the story, what led them to where they are. Listen. And don't ever forget to breathe!
    With all the technology we have, you'd think there was no space for Xenophobia.


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