Difference, Violence and the events of Charlottesville
Two years ago we posted the three free stories below from our "Diversity" collection.
After the events of this past weekend, we feel they are relevant and will offer talking points for families struggling with how to frame "white supremacy" and "nazism," as well as questions as to how/why violence can so easily break out where there is hate of the "other".
In addition to the stories below, consider listening to the following:
- The SparkleCast conversation we had with psychologist Kim Payne.
Both explore inclusion, exclusion and the role of the bystander.
We hope the stories help. Please feel free to contact us if we can offer more: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The words Difference and Diversity come from the same Latin root – which is to "turn aside."
When something "turns aside" something else, it becomes distinct from that original thing, it becomes clearly separate – it becomes different.
So “Diversity” is a "turning of different ways.”
I like this image of turning.
When someone turns, you can see the front, and sides, and back of them. And they, in turning, can see all around themselves.
In contrast, by standing still and only having one perspective of the world, one can become defined by that one point of view, and miss out on all the possibilities around them.
When one is open to diversity, which can be found just about everywhere, one opens themselves to see as much as possible, and invites others to truly see them. They gain understanding and in turn can be understood. They clear their minds and open their hearts to peace and understanding.
The three stories in the “Diversity” collection are about that turning: the turning of individuals toward other individuals, as well as the turning of communities toward other communities.
Below are all three of the stories in the "Diversity" collection:
“The Blunt Gnome and the Shiny Gnome”
This story is good for seeing how our behavior and habits are tied to stories and beliefs that we think are true for everyone. But it doesn’t take long to see that other people have VERY DIFFERENT beliefs and habits. So how to we reconcile this? How do we find common ground, or at least a way of getting along? We need to see them – from all perspectives.
Blunt Gnomes and Shiny Gnomes fundamentally disagree on how to work with gems. They feel so strongly about it, they refuse to even meet with the other kind. But when Gnath, a blunt gnome, and Lonrach, a Shiny Gnome, meet one day in a cave situated exactly between the two gnome lands, the two groups are forced to work this out. The result surprises them, and though their perspectives do not change much, their understanding of the other side does.
"The Judges of Juniper Grove"
This story is good for seeing how every conflict, every challenge, every opportunity, can be seen from many different perspectives. There is no right answer – and often there are as many answers as there are people offering them. So how do we make decisions? How do we know the right thing to do? Well, the last step of making the decision is a LOT easier when the first step is deeply and thoroughly taken up: listening, paying attention, and including perspectives that are different from yours.
Juniper Grove needs a judge. The town is growing fast, and new people from different towns and different communities are moving in every day. The town council winnows the choices down to three different applicants – a local possibility, a man from a nearby city and a man all the way from the east coast. Each of the judges offers a completely different point of view, and the council doesn’t know how to choose!
"The Lemurs of Milton Park Zoo"
This story is good for seeing the invented limitations that can be placed on different groups of people – limitations due to age, gender, ethnicity, religion, family of origin, race, nationality. When someone is allowed to see themselves fully – without imposed limitations – the world benefits from their uniqueness and novelty. The world becomes more diverse.
The Milton Park Lemurs are a curious bunch, unlike any other lemur exhibit, or even lemurs of the wild. They are a dynamic, colorful group with ever-changing behavior. It all started a very brave and curious White Tuffed Lemur named Priya, who received some simple wisdom from a visiting gecko who can change colors at will.
A word on listening to these stories and, for that matter, all the Helping & Healing stories:
Start by letting your child listen – without any context or coaching.
Then later that day or the following day, your child may have a question. This is the cue that they are ready to process the story with you. At that point the lemurs or judges or gnomes can serve as a starting place for a conversation about something real in their life – or an enduring question they have had.
- Sometimes listening to them again or a third time is good for some children – but the stories will be much more effective if they are NOT attached to a lesson or advice.
These stories have no Sparkle advertisement – only a short copyright tag at the end. They are intended as a gift to support families who may find it useful.
Feel free to download and share these stories as often as you’d like. We give permission for them to be shared freely.
About the Author
David Sewell McCann
David Sewell McCann fell in love with spinning stories in first grade – the day a storyteller came to his class and captured his mind and imagination. He has been engaged in storytelling all of his adult life through painting, film-making, teaching and performing. Out of his experience as a Waldorf elementary class teacher and parent, he has developed a four step method of intuitive storytelling, which he now shares through workshops and through this website.