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The Power of a Story

“If you want your children to be intelligent read them fairy tales. And if you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

– Albert Einstein

We’d rather hear a story than a direct instruction.

When someone tells you, ‘You should be honest’ the phrase appears invasive and threatening to the ego; your mind could likely interpret it as: ‘I am dishonest and therefore not a good person’.

However the same phrase could reach your heart through a story of the boy who herded sheep, and each week he raised a false alarm of wolves that attacked his flock. The villagers came to rescue him to only discover there was no wolf. Finally on the third week, a pack of wolves did come, but when he called for help, no one turned up.

This sheep story while being narrated could likely keep you glued and you’d also surely drop your ego. There is no threat as it’s not about you, but a careless boy. And the story blends with your consciousness and shapes your character without you even realizing it.

How is culture developed in a society, and how are values imparted today?

People claim it’s through the media- the news channels, the internet, the FB and Whatsapp. But let’s go one step further- what do the media tell you? They tell you stories.

For instance a young woman might scorn the idea of abortion; it maybe against her values. She switches on the news channel that evening and hears the story of a young thirteen year old girl who was molested, and is now pregnant. Should she abort the child is the topic of discussion on the talk show. The story has entered you; your values are slowly being redefined without your knowledge.

Whether you like it or not, you are hearing stories all the time- in office, at home, on the news, neighbourhood, social media and even your taxi driver might drop a story to you.

Since we can’t help hear stories in life, let’s choose to hear the ones that will nourish our souls, and strengthen our values. As the famous Nigerian novelist and poet Ben Okri said, “Stories can conquer fear; they can make the heart bigger.”

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