Is there any better way to make a point than by telling a story?
September 5, 2012
We are in the political season in the United States. Every four years, we elect a President, and we usually choose the candidate who tells the better story.
That shouldn’t be surprising, because the really important things in life come down to simple stories.
Take this example about a famous exchange between a teacher and a heckler in the crowd. The question was simple: Who is my neighbor?
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
That’s a powerful piece of storytelling. It wasn’t a lecture on human kindness or a philosophical treatise on higher moral values. Rather, it cut to the heart of the matter because it used simple human experiences to drive home its point.
When the Mitt Romney campaign wanted to demonstrate that Romney was a good guy, it didn’t rely on the Republican Party platform. No, it had people stand up and tell stories about things Romney had done for them.
And that is powerful.
I feel certain we will hear similar things about Barack Obama during the Democratic Convention in Charlotte.
So, if you want to make a point. Tell me a story.
Stories are what readers want from writers, what citizens expect from their leaders, what people use to structure their lives. Without them, we are lost in a world where things don’t make sense.
And everyone wants to believe that life makes sense somehow.
Tell me a story.