November, 14, 2016

A Deeply Human, Apolitical Response

The following letter was sent to those subscribed to the StoryKeep email list. You can sign up for our monthly email at the bottom of this page. 

In light of our recent election results, I felt the desire write to you, those on the StoryKeep email list. I have zero intention of sharing my political ideas here, but rather, I felt moved to share a few very human thoughts.

You’re on this email list because you expressed interest in the stories of your own family or in the importance of life stories. Maybe you’ve even created a project with us. With all this in mind, I can safely guess that you are a person who seeks connection with others. You believe in the power of listening. You believe in honoring others and passing on values to your children.

I hope that despite how you voted yesterday or felt this morning, you found yourself pausing and wondering. I hope, like me, you sat and felt concerned with how our communities and nation have fallen short of really seeing each other’s issues, understanding one another’s opinions. I trust that whether you were elated, distraught, joyful or depressed this morning, you were also pricked by the pain of our disconnect. It’s one thing for a candidate to win or lose, it’s quite another thing to be reminded that we have not truly seen and heard each other as neighbors.

I founded StoryKeep because I believe in the fundamental power of listening to someone. Listening is not just hearing; listening is stopping to really take someone in. I often think that our work of producing films and books is the icing on the cake. The real offering we hold out is a moment to honor someone by saying, “I consider your life and story invaluable,” and then listening.

My role at StoryKeep gives me the chance to sit and converse with people who I might not have otherwise met. It is my job to draw out meaningful conversations. To be honest, the task has not always been easy. I’ve heard ideas that challenge me, which have even made me feel uncomfortable. But, those moments have also been one of my job’s greatest gifts. Those are the moments when I, as a person, have the chance to pause, to wonder, to maybe see more deeply, or to see differently.

On the surface, StoryKeep should have nothing to say about this political moment. But when I dig down deep, I think our work of listening is actually at the core of what we need to do more as a nation. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

I look forward to more listening in the days ahead.


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