Why Stories?
© Robin Wood 1998

A very wise man once told me that you could tell a lot about a society by hearing it's stories. And, at the same time, those very stories shaped the society.

A quick perusal of the stories that this society tells, mainly through movies and television, show that it's concerned mostly with violence. If you didn't know any better, you would assume from the stories that most people run into violent episodes (people with guns, explosions, high speed car chases, etc.) on the average of once or twice a week.

Those stories that aren't dealing with violence seem to be mostly concerned with sexually precocious kids, or kids with smart mouths, or kids that know more than any of the adults around them, or generally kids who are acting just like small adults.

And yet, thank the Gods, in reality most of us rarely have to deal with that sort of violence, and most of our kids are still kids.

So why are our stories like this?

I think it's because we mainly tell (and are mainly interested in) two kinds of stories. The first kind, as a brilliant young author once told me, concerns resolving conflict. If you don't have conflict, she said, you don't have a story. The second kind seems to be funny stories; tales and anecdotes that make you laugh.

But, in our society, we seem to have forgotten that all kinds of non-violent conflicts happen every day. It's not necessary for someone to die for us to solve a problem, and achieve inner growth. We can struggle with our own emotions without having to struggle with an assailant. We can rise to heroic heights and show shining nobility without being embroiled in a hostage situation. We can even separate people with qualities we want ourselves and our children to emulate from those that will eventually harm ourselves and others without killing anyone. There are even qualities that are harmful and are not fatal to those around us. Not all "bad guys" are murderers!

And not all funny things are adult in nature! I have no idea why the people telling the stories think it's funny to have kids acting like jaded adults. Having watched two kids grow up, I think the completely off-the-wall-only-a-kid-would-do-that things are much funnier! A seven year old too world weary and cynical to appreciate an outing isn't funny to me. A real seven year old who repeatedly stabbed his steak as hard as he could with his fork, and then looked up with an angelic smile and said, "Now I'm sure it's dead." nearly made me fall off my chair!

So I think it's time to change the stories. And because I'm not the sort of person who sits around and says, "Someone else ought to do something about that!" I'm going to make a small start by telling stories myself. Some of them will be funny, and some will be stories with a moral, and some will be full of conflict. Some will be things that have actually happened to me, and some will be fiction. But they won't be violent, and the people in them will act like real people!

I invite you to read them, and comment, and start to tell your own stories! And together, we can make a difference.