Saturday, March 7, 2009


My Professional Storyteller friend LaRon recently shared with me an event that happened in his life. "I performed earlier this week at a school in Detroit," he said. "During lunch, I went with one of the teachers to a McDonald's 'restaurant' not too far from the school. I never eat McDonald's food, so I was just along for the ride and the conversation, but she does, and she ordered her lunch through the bulletproof safety glass that seals off the staff from the customers." He then exclaimed: "Bulletproof glass at McDonald's!?!?"

LaRon is intensely interested in the history of the creation of slums and the economics of demographic patterns. "What are the stories that support the mindset of hierarchy that allows for such extremes of social polarity to pass virtually unnoticed, and certainly uncared about, in the larger society"," he asked. LaRon then goes on to wonder if we have ever heard a report on the mainstream news about the social tragedy of bulletproof McDonalds-es? "Why aren't we, collectively, as a nation, up in arms about such a horrible situation? How have our stories fostered such a culture of indifference?" LaRon asked.

I "met" LaRon on the storyteller social networking site Professional Storyteller. I invited him to be a part of the "Applied Storytelling: the Power of Story" group, since his profile really intrigued me. In it he said:

"I believe in the creation of a new kind of 'folklore' that redefines our understanding of ourselves and our relationship with our planet. Many traditional folktales reflect the historical era(s) in which they evolved, and contain messages that reinforce human clannishness, antagonism toward the environment, and a weak or nonexistent sense of global perspective. My belief is that contemporary storytelling needs to incorporate themes that teach us the 'new' understandings we've learned about human beings as a single global family, about ourselves as an integral part of the environment, and about the flow of 'cause and effect' in human history."

Now who wouldn't be fascinated by that, may I ask?

LaRon's response to my invitation was equally fascinating. "I believe that we've reached a point in time where it's essential for human beings everywhere to develop different concepts of ourselves," he said. "We simply no longer can afford the old divisive ways of thinking that have determined the course of our history. We can't go on with the incredible levels of violence, the astonishing environmental degradation, or the extremes of hierarchical thinking that allow huge populations to starve and otherwise suffer while others 'enjoy' a glut of overblown luxury." He continued, "The problem is that we're addicted to those old ways -- not simply through our patterns of behavior, but also in our deepest emotional being. The entirety of who we are is rooted in the stories that have grown out of ancient divisive lore. We can't afford to continue to hear those old stories. Our entire Archetype must change if we hope to see new behaviors.

This will be no easy job, LaRon concluded. "We'll need millions of new stories if we hope to counter the old-fashioned mindset that has been developing since before humans even walked erect."

LaRon, I hope you don't mind me sharing your thoughts! I find them extremely poignant and rich fodder for discussion.

What say ye?