Each year at the NAIS conference, there is a Diversity Leadership Award given out. This year’s recipient was Reveta Franklin Bowers. She began her acceptance by saying, “Stories shape the way we are, particularly those that are passed down in families.” I attended a different session at this time, but a colleague who was able to attend that session told me how moved he was by her family’s story. You can read it here (start 6 paragraphs down). Stories like hers are inspiring and demonstrate how important it is to listen to each other’s stories. We will find similarities and differences, agree with some and disagree with others, but we need to be able to set aside our biases and notice that many of the things we want are really the same, just viewed from different lenses. Many have written how humans are naturally drawn to people who are like themselves. Wouldn’t it be great if that likeness was a belief that because of our differences, we all have something unique and valuable to contribute towards making this world a better place for all.
Another source for great stories is the Greater Good Science Center out of UC Berkley which promotes the study and development of human happiness, compassion, and altruism. Here’s another powerful story related to diversity from their December ’09 issue. If you get tired of news about all the crises in our world (financial, health, education, climate, disasters), their online magazine is a great alternative.
Another source for great stories told in 5 minutes or less is NPRs Story Corps. There have been a few that have made me tear up enough that I had to keep driving past the coffee shop in the morning to regain composure.
I think that’s the problem I had with the movie Avatar. While I was blown away by the stunning effects and the way the movie was able to make me feel like I was on Pandora, the story wasn’t new to me. I’ve seen Romeo and Juliet, Pocahontas, Dances With Wolves, West Side Story, and such. I want to see the story of what happens next, what struggles they encounter, and how they overcome those. Perhaps that is why The Hurt Locker won the Oscar for best picture. I haven’t seen it yet, but I suspect its story was a little fresher.