Stories Can Transform the World
Today I attended a brief conference on poverty reduction in my city here on the East Coast of Canada.
Our community has been identified, as one of the priority cities deemed worthy of a lump sum of money from the federal government. The gathering was intended to spark dialogue and collaboration between front line workers, non-profit organizations, police officers and any other invested parties.
I was in my glory as I looked around the room at familiar faces and some, which were not so well known to me. It was comforting to be amongst people I had worked with in my former career as a social worker. We spoke the same language and it was comforting to use those words again.
Community, dialogue, collaboration, funding, holistic, person-centered all burst in my mouth like juicy droplets from a fresh orange when I spoke. These people, community members, and engaged professionals were hopeful for change and it was apparent in the light in their eyes when we discussed transformation.
Conversation was had around providing a basic living income, which most were onboard with. Grumbles came when a lone and brave police officer spoke up questioning what the cost would be if a person receiving such a benefit spent it on drugs and alcohol. I enjoyed the accustomed feeling of discomfort that comes with dialogue and discord.
The take home of the session the work has to be done to create space for people’s stories to be told. We are all human beings trying to make it in this tough old world and the most we can do is give others a leg up when they need it.
Towards the end of the meeting, one participant cited the following quote, “ There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.” The facilitator noted the moment of synchronicity, by mentioning that her husband had just painted the same wording on his office wall.
I live for that stuff!
This further corroborated my desire to write.
We can choose to live our lives with blinders on, or engage in naval gazing, kowtowing to our own neuroses (and I am saying this from personal experience) or we can open up and get to know people in our communities for who they really are while embracing the fear and trepidation which makes us human.
Some of the most amazing people I have met are those I have come to know through my work in the field. If we simply listen we can learn to appreciate our shared humanity with those who may seem so different at first glance.
We can also share our own stories.
Stories are the crux of transformational change and the essence of how we relate to one another. When we write, we come closer to understanding our shared plight and we near the root of happiness and suffering.