Professional Storyteller

Share a Story - Change the World

My Professional Storyteller friend LaRon recently shared with me an event that happened in his life. "I performed earlier this week at a school in Detroit," he said. "During lunch, I went with one of the teachers to a McDonald's 'restaurant' not too far from the school. I never eat McDonald's food, so I was just along for the ride and the conversation, but she does, and she ordered her lunch through the bulletproof safety glass that seals off the staff from the customers." He then exclaimed: "Bulletproof glass at McDonald's!?!?"

LaRon is intensely interested in the history of the creation of slums and the economics of demographic patterns. "What are the stories that support the mindset of hierarchy that allows for such extremes of social polarity to pass virtually unnoticed, and certainly uncared about, in the larger society"," he asked. LaRon then goes on to wonder if we have ever heard a report on the mainstream news about the social tragedy of bulletproof McDonalds-es? "Why aren't we, collectively, as a nation, up in arms about such a horrible situation? How have our stories fostered such a culture of indifference?" LaRon asked.

I "met" LaRon on the storyteller social networking site Professional Storyteller. I invited him to be a part of the "Applied Storytelling: the Power of Story" group, since his profile really intrigued me. In it he said:

"I believe in the creation of a new kind of 'folklore' that redefines our understanding of ourselves and our relationship with our planet. Many traditional folktales reflect the historical era(s) in which they evolved, and contain messages that reinforce human clannishness, antagonism toward the environment, and a weak or nonexistent sense of global perspective. My belief is that contemporary storytelling needs to incorporate themes that teach us the 'new' understandings we've learned about human beings as a single global family, about ourselves as an integral part of the environment, and about the flow of 'cause and effect' in human history."

Now who wouldn't be fascinated by that, may I ask?

LaRon's response to my invitation was equally fascinating. "I believe that we've reached a point in time where it's essential for human beings everywhere to develop different concepts of ourselves," he said. "We simply no longer can afford the old divisive ways of thinking that have determined the course of our history. We can't go on with the incredible levels of violence, the astonishing environmental degradation, or the extremes of hierarchical thinking that allow huge populations to starve and otherwise suffer while others 'enjoy' a glut of overblown luxury." He continued, "The problem is that we're addicted to those old ways -- not simply through our patterns of behavior, but also in our deepest emotional being. The entirety of who we are is rooted in the stories that have grown out of ancient divisive lore. We can't afford to continue to hear those old stories. Our entire Archetype must change if we hope to see new behaviors.

This will be no easy job, LaRon concluded. "We'll need millions of new stories if we hope to counter the old-fashioned mindset that has been developing since before humans even walked erect."

LaRon, I hope you don't mind me sharing your thoughts! I find them extremely poignant and rich fodder for discussion.

What say ye?

Views: 168

Tags: McDonalds, applied, autheniticity, culture, environment, identity, injustice, justice, self-discovery, society, More…story, storytelling


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Comment by Uschi Erlewein on February 21, 2010 at 4:56am
Hi Steve,
i was just reading that you did some story-research in the himalayan region, especially Bhutan. How did you do that? Did you publish some of those stories? did you get a grant for that research, how about translating the stories, did somebody in the particular country collect the stories for you and you adapted them to english.......i have lots of questions, since i am working on a storyprogram for an exhibition here in Germany. Would be nice to hear some of your experiences and share.
I love your texts in your blog about international storytelling. I realize, that dealing with stories from other cultures makes me understand my own culture, roots and upcoming much better. best wishes and looking forward to hear from you! Uschi
Comment by Steve Evans on March 9, 2009 at 5:06am
I agree with you, Kath. I think that our traditional tales have much to say to contemporary society and even future generations, but there are some who agree with LaRon! This same posting is in the Applied Storytelling group, and Bruce Hale responded:

It puts me in mind of folklorist Joseph Campbell's declaration that our new era demands for new myths to be created -- myths that point a new way of being. I know that George Lucas drew from this idea when he created his "Star Wars" stories, but I think the stories can be much more profound than that. Well spoken, LaRon! It's time for new stories to point the way.

I look forward to hearing you additional thoughts! Best wishes. STEVE
Comment by Bill and Kath Worsfold on March 9, 2009 at 4:23am
Wow! Give up all our old stories - Anansi, the Grimms, Hans Andersen and the rest! And give up our cultural roots. A lot of the old stories teach universal wisdom of right and wrong, morality, etc. This is very radical thinking - I'd have to think about this a lot more before commenting further.

Kathy Lamb Worsfold

Bill & Kath - Kiwi Entertainers!



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