A recent sermon presented by our pastor was titled, “Telling a Different Story.” As normal, I found myself triggered to write something when I heard this. In recent years, I’ve been hearing more people talking about writing a new narrative or changing the narrative. Through social action, many today are not taking it anymore, and taking the initiative to change the narrative. The #Metoo, #BlackLivesMatter are two well-known examples. On a much grander scale, we see entire nations and continents that have been stirred to change their narratives. The large continent of Africa has been awakened. Some sectors, after decades of colonization, are raising voices in many of its fifty-four different countries to write new stories. There are those on this vast continent of 1.3 billion people, who would like very much for the vestiges of colonization to be permanently eradicated from the hearts and minds of the people. Many of these are within the ranks of the millions of young people, who had no personal experience with colonization.
One thing I’ve noticed is that movements to change the narrative usually occur when a few members of a group find themselves burden beyond the ability to suffer some indignity anymore. This point of consciousness, if powerful enough, can birth movements that cause tectonic-like shifts in society. A perfect example of that is the recent falls we’ve witnessed of men of power falling hard from their pedestals. They can no longer hide from the sins of sexual exploitation committed years ago. Women are coming forward, strengthened by the bravery of one or two, who have been willing to put themselves out front for public scrutiny, as they tell their stories of mistreatment received from unscrupulous men. For a long time, I’ve jokingly referred to the term history as “his story”, which cuts to the route of much of what is wrong with stories from the past. If it’s his story and not her story, their story or better yet our story, how can we have confidence in any version rendered that the narrative is as it should be.
I realize stories are always told from someone’s perspective; however, if there is no effort to include diverse perspectives, especially from those who lack power in society, there accuracy is up for debate. As difficult as it may be for some to accept, each of us has a story to tell, a narrative to be chronicled. All of us may not be able to voice it well or write it for public consumption, but it can be packaged and presented by those of us who do possess the ability to tell the stories of others. I find myself, at this stage in life, regretful that I didn’t chronicle conversations I had with the oral historians of my family, my grandparents and their siblings, who carried invaluable stories of suffering, sacrifice, survival and victory that could provide inspiration to generations after them.
Don’t think that we all can’t change the narrative. We can. This past mid-term congressional elections showed us that women had the power to begin the process of changing the narrative of the story being written by the United States House of Representatives. Those elections resulted in the largest number of women to ever hold seats in the House. Most of us aren’t politicians, lawyers or some highly educated individual, who has the public’s ear. But, that’s okay. We can begin the process of changing the narrative in our community by volunteering to do something that maybe someone else hasn’t stepped forward to do. We can be a better citizen, a better parent, a better member of the community. We can start small, think big and write big, changing the narrative in ways that will not be ignored.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.