Why We Tell Stories

Posted on January 31, 2007. Filed under: Personal Blog |

This was an email I was sending over to my friend Adam. It relates to a specific discussion we were having. But you should watch the video.

“You should watch this video. It’s about Anthropology. Culture. Exploration. Resourcefulness. Strangely, I think that it relates to the discussion that we were having in Roosters today about Canadian politics. The speaker, Wade Davis, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, concludes by saying that polemics aren’t persuasive. Storytelling is. And that’s the raison d’etre of the National Geographic Society: to be the world’s finest storytellers. And to change the world through it. Storytelling. It’s what sold me on Stephane Dion a couple years back, in Montreal: a potent tale combining vivid video, a shivers-up-your-spine soundtrack by Tom Cochrane, and a poignant and hopeful moral lesson about the environment. I really do think that we can – that we must – appeal to more than pocketbooks in politics. That there are problems in the world and it is our task to craft them into compelling – and motivating – stories. That’s why Al Gore’s Academy Award nod is a triumph. That’s why I’m unabashedly hopeful about Stephane Dion. That’s why I reject Machiavellian pessimism! I know what truly motivates people: hope, mission, and a faith in what’s to come. It’s the reason why people volunteer. Why they act as citizens. It’s this nobility which makes human beings worth caring about. And it’s pursuing these greater goals which is the only worthwhile reason to invest even an iota of one’s life in political pursuits. Otherwise, we’d have no reason to spend the best part of our lives plodding through this labyrinth that is the political game. (It’s) What makes you unwilling to concede to your political opponents?

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