How Storytelling Can Save the World

Posted by Les Schaffer

Once upon a time, I heard, storyteller Dovie Thomason say something like, “Whenever I did something bad, instead of punishing me, my Grandma, told me a story. I got to hear a lot of stories.”

I can certainly relate to this as my Grandma did about the same. I might not have always listened, but I sure got a sense of right behavior, who I was and where I’m from. My Bubbie’s stories helped save this lost child.

I’m 83 and can say that stories saved my life – many times. For example, at a Central American border station, at gunpoint, telling the story of the bananas I was trying to take across the border. rather than throw them away, and of my longtime love for Chiquita Banana, saved me from a beating or perhaps even from being shot.

Closer to home, the stories told at 12-Step meetings helps to preserve mine and others lives.

Ben Affleck is said to have said, “Storytelling saves lives, storytelling changes the world…We tell stories to our family members and those who are intimate with us. That’s how we communicate who we are and express our souls. Storytelling is a powerful thing.”

Many of us read A Thousand and One Nights. These tales wrapped inside a wonderful story, tells us how Scheherazade beguiles the Sultan with stories; saving herself, her children, perhaps hundreds of other women and the uncounted thousands of their children. Many of her stories are hero myths; an underdog starting from nothing, becomes educated or stronger with the help of a mentor, and then saves the world.

How many times have you told a story from your own experience to get a point across to someone, or relate back to someone else’s experience? How many times have you heard a story and suddenly felt your eyes opened to a new perspective, or new way of thinking?

We’ve all experienced these moments—multiple times. Most of us believe that storytelling is an effective tool that can be leveraged within the portfolio of global tools and technologies to engender positive changes for individuals, families, communities and organizations around the world.

Fiction or not, a story’s truth is eternal. Tell your stories, you are hardwired for it. Stories matter. Tell them through videos, through blogs, through performances. Tell them through whatever works for you. Tell to a child in need. It is good for your soul. It keeps us human; it saves lives, you will help save the world.