Values 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…

Can storytelling influence values?

Can storytelling influence values?

We know that stories can promote any values: war or peace; the vilification of the “other” or the dignity of all.

But does storytelling—the process, apart from particular stories—have an underlying tendency to promote some values over others?

If so, does this reveal a hidden power of the storytelling art?

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…

Speech of a Lifetime?

Speech of a Lifetime?

At the recent National Storytelling Conference in Kansas City, I had the amazing honor of being given the Lifetime Achievement Award - the highest honor given in the U.S. storytelling community.

I was allowed just a few minutes to address the gathering. Since this was a once-in-a-lifetime moment, I tried to give the essence of what I most want to pass on, after over four decades as a storyteller, author, teacher, and coach. So here’s what I said...