Story Telling

 I spend a lot of my communication time telling stories about my own experiences, other people's experiences, etc. What often happens is that people respond with their own stories, and every story has worth - everyone "gets" something different from their story, etc.

I frequently end up with egg on my face for being too direct, too experiental, not academic enough. I can debate for HOURS, like a good academic, if necessary. And academia has its place. But so does the experiential.

Mostly, people are grateful to me for being the one to get the egg on the face. They'll write to me in private and tell me this. <grin> Anyway, to illustrate the point:

Here's a short one for you:

The dry facts: On April 27 1994, South Africa has the first free election, as millions of voters went to the polls for the first time. There was very little violence, but administrative failures hampered the proceedings.

One person's story: "We were all so excited - here everyone was standing in this long queue, and no-one minded. Hey, we were laughing, cracking jokes, sharing sandwiches. The spirit of sheer joy in the air was so powerful, so all-pervasive that the actual physical atmosphere seemed lighter. It was powerful, more powerful than anything I'd ever experienced. In fact, no-one wanted to go home, we were happy standing in the queue for ages, just to be there, you know?"

Another person's story: "Well, I really thought it was going to be the end of the world. I bought all this canned food, preparing to hole myself up in my home till it was all over. But you know, it was the strangest thing - the Blacks didn't mind us, they didn't want revenge - they were FRIENDLY. They were treating us like friends. Eventually, I said it was allright for my family to go outside and join the voters. We've never had so much fun in our life. And the relief! I really thought it was going to be all over, we were going to be killed for sure."

You see? Both are necessary for a more complete, or whole, picture.

Kim Baker

12 Jun 1995