Humanity’s legacy of stories and storytelling is the most precious we have. All wisdom is in our stories and songs. A story is how we construct our experiences. Doris Lessing
One of the many ways of educating children is through story telling. Stories have the enormous advantage of capturing the children’s attention. This is three quarters of the educational battle.
Listening to stories, reading stories, writing stories all have a remarkable effect; from enhanced brain function, memory and creativity, to bonding with the story teller, and the rest of the audience as we all laugh and gasp together.
Stories are a sort of social glue. Families, social groups, and indeed nations are knitted together with shared stories; with the stories of remembered, and sometimes, misremembered events of the past. Indeed, part of the power of stories is bound up with myth making.
A myth is not necessarily a tale that is made up or which departs from known facts. Rather it is a story, the factual basis of which is beside the point. And the effect of a common myth is to bind together those who share that story. Australia has its Anzac Day story, its Eureka Stockade story, its stories of dauntless explorers braving the outback. These stories weave themselves into the historical narrative, out of which is fashioned a great nation. Today we see the welcome trend of weaving the thread of indigenous Australia and its stories into that unifying narrative.
And Christmas is the time when we remember and retell one of the greatest stories of all: the arresting image of the Divine born as a baby in a stable, worshipped by wise men, celebrated by the humble and the high-born alike. And whether this story is true in the sense of scientifically and historically verifiable, is completely beside the point.
The simple fact is that billions believe it; and the world is an immeasurably better place for those billions who followed through on that belief in the story, by living a life where they love the Lord their God, and their neighbours as themselves, where they forgive enemies; and care for the needy.