Stories to end the shouting

The internet felt like a shouting match tonight.

In the midst of so much noise, I almost don’t know what to say. I’ll say this:

This weekend marked the end of a small writing workshop I’ve been facilitating. We’ve worked on capturing a single moment on the page—an irreversible personal turning point.

Today, everyone brought their finished stories to read out loud.

Around the wide table, each reader shared a piece of their life, each one a snapshot of things I’ve never done:

I’ve never driven a Jeep through the jungle in the Philippines during WWII, never convinced my sisters to take a mud bath in a pigsty, never worried my child might have leukemia, never been diagnosed with diabetes, never gotten in trouble with the pastor by playing marbles behind a church.

But I (and all of us at the table) had been afraid before, or made mistakes, or faced uncertainty, or landed in trouble.

Sharing personal stories opened doors for us to feel those feelings together, to look across the table and discover we had even more in common than we thought.

“Let’s tell stories,” might sound like a reductive, overly simplified solution to all the shouting and name-calling and collective anger that seems to be swirling through the corner of the internet I’m looking at.

But the solution—which holds true in most instances of conflict—is seeing and treating each other as people. Stories can be just one way to get us there.

PS. At the end of our class, I read this page-long piece (A Sin, by Brian Doyle), which was wonderful, but also a total mistake because I tear up when I read it aloud, even if I promise myself I won’t. Enjoy.

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