Storytelling has been an integral part of the human experience since we began socializing as a species. The value of story has been studied extensively by anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists alike. There is something about stories that binds humans and allows us to thrive.
Stories are an expression of a sequence of connected events to help us better understand our lives. These narrative accounts can be either fact, fiction, or a hybrid of the two. Either way, story narratives help us manage both the known and unknown factors in our lives. Even fantasy and mythology stories must represent a higher truth that connects humanity. These stories are told by our parents, teachers and elders since we were children. In turn, we tell the same stories to our children. There are a fixed number of themes that we respond to, no matter how many times we are told the same types of stories.
In a broader sense, stories are ultimately about SALVATION or REDEMPTION.
The storytellers of many cultures are highly revered. They teach us how to function in a society and understand that our commonalities far outweigh our differences with other tribes. These powerful stories help reduce conflict by creating healthy respect for those that look, think and act differently than us. Most importantly, universal stories are timeless and and thematically bind humans. They teach us not to fear or ridicule what is different. But rather to appreciate it. It’s the only way we can survive as a species.
Stories serve both a COMMUNAL and INDIVIDUAL purpose. Both of these narrative components are essential in defining individual identity, not only within our own community, but within humanity as a whole. This is the universality of story and represents the collective consciousness of mankind. That is the true power of storytelling.
Communal stories flourish by sharing information, experiences, concerns, memories, morality, anecdotes and wisdom. These narratives give us a sense of belonging and help define the cultural constructs of a community as a whole because they reflect shared values.
Individual stories is to help us define our own identity. Who we are and what is our role in our community. We define our individual personality within a narrative framework. It helps shape our life choices and how we deal with life’s challenges. It also defines how we are perceived within the wider community. This is the basis of character in story. Our relationships within the communal identity gives rise to CHARACTER ARCHETYPES.
Some academics expound our desire for our lives and legacies to be recorded in narrative form. This can be visual, written or verbal. They define how we will be remembered and what impact we leave on our communities after we’ve passed.
We often tell our personal stories from our perspective. We are the PROTAGONISTS of our stories. We are the heroes. These stories play to our desire to face challenges, yet ultimately be triumphant in our communities. They give us a strong sense of purpose and self worth.
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