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The Importance of Storytelling
by Sylvia Payne

We are losing the time when families gathered by the fire or sat under the stars to listen to their elders tell stories.   Much of this has been brought about by the change of technology.   Most homes in our country have the "talking box" (TV), computers, VCR's, video games and DVD's for entertainment.   This makes it much more difficult for our younger generation to sit still to listen to stories or activate their imagination.   Our society is geared toward instant gratification, instant messages and instant answers.  

Many adults are misled into believing that 'storytelling' is only for kids.   This is not true.   Stories speak to the very core of our own being, and can serve to nurture our heart and our soul.   Stories can bring us closer to the truth about ourselves, about life and about living, as well as help us define our own purpose here on earth.   As it is stated by many historians and storytellers, "If you don't know where you have been, how do you know where you are going?"

Storytelling is one of the oldest 'art forms' in the world.   Passing the stories down orally, from generation to generation, served to preserve a tribe, a village or a community's history.   By using the art of oral storytelling, we preserve the ancient tradition by passing down and sharing our stories with others.   A great wealth of family history can be found among the older generation, our elders, such as grandparents, parents, and citizens of the community and church members.  

One of the best ways to empower them is to talk to them about their stories of the past, memories of growing up, of how life may or may not have been much simpler at that time, and about historical events that affected their own lives.  

Paying attention to our elders can serve to be a valuable teacher to us as a family, a church congregation or an entire community.   Once an elder passes away without writing their memories down or passing them on by oral tradition, it is gone forever.

© 2004 Sylvia Payne