Storytellers, like everyone else, live in their cultures, social strata's, and traditions. Additionally, they cross social, racial, economic, educational, cultural, and educational lines to interact with other components in society. In a period when society is increasingly more fragmented and divided along political, religious, lifestyle, or philosophical lines it is important that storytellers remember that diversity is a two way street and tolerance a path of mutual manners. Storytellers, by virtue of the strength and confidence required to share stories in public in the first place, can be pretty strong minded, ego driven, and opinionated.
Two examples serve to illustrate the issue. In one state storytelling group where a subset who were people of faith and they wished to add to the state event a program for the mutual sharing of stories of faith and the sacred. Another group, who did not share this interest laughed, in many ways demeaned the idea, and minimized the other storytellers. Since no one was planning to force anyone to participate, the reaction was intolerant, divisive, and insultive. In another situation, a storyteller who was on one side of a political-social issue evangelistically promoted their view through stories, materials, and even the t-shirt worn. Yet, when another storyteller with equally strong, yet opposite views attempted to do the same they were met with intolerance, limitations, and restrictions as to content of stories shared.
Storytelling in its earliest roots was surely the epitome of what we like to call ' Freedom of Speech'. In the ability to present stories of differing views, from differing cultures, and sharing diverse values, the listener has always been encouraged to consider and weigh options as they develop their own opinions. Storytelling has always been a source of moral, ethical, and educational direction for people. Stories are the voices of family and friends connecting each human being to another.
Families are often loud and talk over each, are opinionated and blunt, but they should also always be listeners. Storytellers should also be listeners. What is the old adage about understanding comes from walking in anothers shoes? Maybe it also comes from changing perspective, tolerating other views, and respecting not only our own opinions but allowing others their own as well.