story trumps argument, or at least i think so

Posted: July 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

As I got ready to leave work today, I was bracing myself – for a gunshot. 

No, I’m not talking about the neighborhood!  I was headed for my car, where my current book-on-CD was loaded and ready, having left off this morning in the midst of the story.  The main character was preparing to shoot a horse, having been left with no other option.  I had winced, turning off the key when I arrived at work, knowing that the end of my workday would include the death of a beautiful horse.  And the story waited there patiently for my return.

I love checking out books-on-CD from the library for my car.  Sure, the radio will play some songs, if I tune in to that.  But a book being read captivates me.  Stirs my imagination.  Draws me into the story.  Listening in my car, I laugh at top of my lungs.  I cry real tears.  Sometimes the suspense gets so great that I realize, while waiting at a stop light, that my face is drawn into a mask of horror or terror, and I wonder what any other driver around me must think as they glance my way.

I know for sure I am not the only person who gets drawn into story like that.  Just a few days ago, I sat at lunch with a coworker who described to me a comedy vampire series that she is reading.  The details just kept bubbling out of her, and she was laughing – often involuntarily – as she shared.  The characters in the story were real to her and the humor had clearly captured her. 

Story is a powerful thing.  I happen to think it is one of the very most powerful things we have.  Want to argue your point?  Well, you COULD just argue.  My experience is that arguing generally does not change almost anyone’s mind, almost ever.  Arguing just makes others feel more argumentative, for the most part. 

But STORY, on the other hand, does sometimes change hearts and minds.  It humanizes ideas and ideals.  It puts skin on theories and rules.  It fleshes out the nuances of consequences and motivations.  It tends to ask a lot of questions, even when it is driving a point home hard.  Rather than stirring further argument, it is more likely to cue empathy or further, deeper thought.  Argument tends to close minds – story tends to open them. 

Hitting people over the head with my logic, my own brand of reason, or my belief system seems mostly to be a polarizing event.  Those who agree with me will line up to say so, and those who don’t will feel even more alienated maybe then they did before I started talking.  Sharing my story can cause a joining place between my world view and the total opposite of another person’s. 

Yeah, you might say I’m a fan of story.  If you’ve been around here more than a minute or two you probably already knew that. 

What about YOUR story?  What part of it might you tell, to give the gift change for the better in the world around you?  That’s my challenge to you today. 

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