A long time ago, I came across an old proverb which has since turned into a sort of personal mantra: Those who tell the stories rule the world. Itâ€™s a powerful idea, and a truthful one. Shane Snow did an amazing TEDx talk on this in 2014 where he talks about the reasons why storytelling is so important. We use stories to entertain, of course - books, movies, plays, many video games, and so on are story driven - but we also use them to teach concepts, to sell ideas, and to tap into emotions. Stories help make things memorable.
In his book Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, Jerome Bruner noted that stories are about twenty-two times more memorable than facts alone. But why? Because stories, especially (supposedly) true stories, make us care. They spark emotion. They help us to build connections not just to the people in the stories, but also to each other, which in turn forges relationships that change how we see ourselves and each other and the world around us.
If you enjoyed history, or even if you didnâ€™t, chances are that you remember some events that happened before your time because of their stories. People with religious or spiritual bents learn their philosophies not from a set of cut-and-dried rules, but the stories and parables that teach that particular way of life. â€œAh,â€ you might say, â€œbut what about the Ten Commandments? Those are pretty cut and dry.â€ Perhaps, but people generally donâ€™t memorize the rules on their own; what gives the Commandments power is the story that goes along with it. Moses hiking up a mountain and coming back down with some rules etched literally in stone doesnâ€™t really provide much encouragement to follow said rules, but Moses coming down with the rules and a story about how God himself personally gave him these rules and told him that the people needed to change their ways OR ELSE certainly packed a bit more of a punch. Toss in a golden cow and youâ€™ve got yourself something that will stick in the minds of your faithful flock.