Culture and Storytelling

Can Storytelling Help Make a Better Future?

Can Storytelling Help Make a Better Future?

One day, I was trying to think about the future of our society. (This gave me a major headache and no ideas.)

But then I saw an image of a light-filled city floating above the horizon. When I described it to my listening partner, I saw more: a roadway leading from me to that futuristic city.

In a flash, I had a thought - my first one!

I thought, “I don’t know what a future society will look like. But I think I know some values that will be important in getting us there.

As soon as I spoke that, I had a thought that has changed my life in some important ways, ever since: “I know how to teach those values through teaching storytelling.”

That led me to try to work out…

Don’t Fall for the “Lone Genius” Fallacy!

Don’t Fall for the “Lone Genius” Fallacy!

Somehow, we’ve come to expect creative people to work alone. Yet many of the most successful of us seek out, commit to, and cherish relationships with other artists who help us with our work…. the fantasy of self-sufficiency can be a trap. With rare exceptions, creative people of all kinds like to be around others. 

Why, then, would so many people subscribe to the false idea of the “solitary, tormented genius”? 

Storytelling and Values: Below the Radar?

Storytelling and Values: Below the Radar?

Some storytellers have a social message they would like to deliver, but run into problems about telling stories that promote social change:

  • If they tell stories as part of their living, do they dare risk alienating potential customers or even their own supervisors or colleagues?

  • If they tell stories with a strong message (of any kind), do they risk alienating their listeners?

  • If they need to separate their “social change” storytelling from their bread-and-butter storytelling, how can they have the energy to do both?

But what if there’s a way that storytelling can promote important values “below the radar”?

What if the very processes of storytelling can be enlisted to promote values that will be crucial in making a future society even better than today’s society?

What if…

A Choctaw Response to Violence: Authenticity?

A Choctaw Response to Violence: Authenticity?

We live in a historical moment where hatred and violence are promoted, not only by individuals and splinter groups, but also by governments. Is it possible that we can learn how to hold onto our true selves in such a moment? 

What’s more, can we learn about that kind of authenticity from Native Americans, who have had a few hundred years of practice at the receiving end of hatred and violence?

Tim Tingle is a Choctaw storyteller and novelist, who work models a sense of connection that is rare in our wider society.

In fact, Tim’s novels for teens and young adults—mostly written in the historical past—show us something about what it might mean to be authentic today…

Tim Tingle: A Choctaw Approach to Authenticity

Tim Tingle: A Choctaw Approach to Authenticity

I first got to know Tim Tingle when I moved to Oklahoma in 2004. After my wife Pam and I had spent time with Tim in several contexts, he invited us to attend the Choctaw Nation’s annual Labor Day Festival in the tribal capitol, Tvshka Homma (Tuscahoma), Oklahoma.

Pam and I had the great privilege there of meeting some of the elders who had taught Tim his stories. But most of all, we got a glimpse of some unspoken parts of Choctaw culture.

A case in point: we heard many stories from Tim and from his friends about the jokes they had played on Tim...