StoryCorps : Listening is an Act of Love


Some cultures rely heavily on their oral traditions.

Native Alaskan cultures, for example, rely solely on the spoken word to pass stories and lessons down through the generations. They do this because they had no alphabets or formal methods to write them down until the immigration of white culture into Alaska.

There are certainly pros and cons to this. The cons are obvious : when someone dies, their stories die with them. The pros, however, are rich and are what gives our country today its many flavors, such as in this article about the diversity of modern-day Anchorage by Father Michael Oleksa.

Thinking about it, some of the greatest thinkers in history never wrote anything down. For example, Socrates and Jesus, among others. So I have to wonder : why wouldn’t they?

Because when you write something down it WILL be misinterpreted and possibly manipulated into something it wasn’t intended to be.

That’s what so cool about StoryCorps – regular people like you and me recording our conversations and stories for future generations to hear. Way less room for misinterpretation there.

What a great gift for a family member or good friend.

I love listening to people’s stories – they are some of the most authentic forms of entertainment on the globe at present. Perhaps the reason they’re so enjoyable is because it’s already familiar to us, embedded in some kind of collective memory – to listen just like back in the days of sitting by the fires that were built to keep predators at bay and then on to books that were read by fireside or bedside before children went to sleep and next the age of radio when people could still use imaginations to meet the storytellers halfway, filling in the images with their own minds as the tales unfolded.

Comparatively, television, the web and film don’t leave us much room to exercise what is arguably the most important muscle of them all : our imagination.