Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Power of Story

My husband and I watch PBS on Fri nights--Washington Week, NOW and Bill Moyer's Journal. We've dubbed the lineup "The Friday Night Smackdown," with only some irony. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing rational people wrestle with ideas.

I particularly enjoy Bill Moyers Journal. Moyers tells truth to power, but always looking for a little optimism. If he gives you a harrowing story on the economy or media consolidation, he'll balance it with a winsome chat with Nicki Giovanni. This last week the ubiquity of lobbyist influence/money was counterpointed with Parker Palmer of the Center for Courage and Renewal on America's need for self-reflection.

Palmer pointed out something I didn't know about how the Obama campaign was organized. Three years ago, Camp Obama gathered people together and encouraged them to tell three stories-- the story of "self," the story of "us" and the story of "now":

...To me, the underlying genius of what happened at Camp Obama was simply this. I don't remember until the Obama campaign a presidential campaign which we were not asked, I was not asked, to buy a presidential candidate as a commodity in a consumer culture. The Obama campaign did not ask me to buy something. It asked me to tell a story. And in that movement it turned me from being a consumer of a political commodity to being a citizen, a voice. Somebody wants to hear my story.

Palmer also talked about the "tragic gap" between reality (cynicism) and idealism and how we need balance between the two in times of crisis: "...If you don't have a capacity to hold the tension in your heart between reality and possibility then you're just going to give up eventually."

Transcript and video here.

No comments: