Stories are powerful, it’s why people love fiction such as novels and movies, well, some of us anyway. I have always loved to read, it opened up new worlds and fed my active imagination when I felt like I was being stifled and suppressed. I did a unit in eighth grade English about all the different things we can learn from fiction. The thing is, it’s not just fiction. We thrive on stories. All religions have either a holy book filled with stories and instructions, or oral traditions where stories and instructions were passed from one generation to another from people retelling them. I learned about many of these when I studied the history of communications in college, a course in which I aced, by the way.
In order to write, I have to do a lot of reading, in fact it’s often what inspires my writing. I just finished “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult and “The Last Vampire” by Christopher Pike (yes, I like vampire literature) and just got given a whole stack of novels, so that was like Christmas for me. As I read these stories, I absorbed them, I took interest in the characters, their lives, the issues they grappled with. Stories don’t just entertain me, they challenge my beliefs, help form my opinions, show me opposing sides of issues that I sometimes can’t get from a debate with people who already have their minds made up. Stories are a learning experience, which is why I invest so much into books for my kids, and encouraging them to read.
Fundamentalism doesn’t really care much for stories, because it has life all worked out into neat little boxes with formulas for doing the right thing and getting the holy, godly results they believe in. The problem however is that real life isn’t formulaic, it’s rich in experiences and stories are powerful. I think perhaps we would all communicate better and actually understand each other better if we listened to each other’s stories rather than trying to come up with formulaic solutions. Life is complex, stories are complex, and it’s about time we started to pay more attention to them.