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  • Writer's pictureSara Sharpe

Combatants for Peace


"It’s almost as if we in the room hadn't realized we’d been holding our breath – holding our breath because the world has exploded and the culture war is seething, and everywhere now, the politics of hate is thriving. But then Colum walked in and somehow gave us more air to breathe with his unwavering faith in people and our ability to change the world if only we shared enough stories."

Hi, Friend,


Last week, I attended a Narrative 4 event at my Alma Mater, UT/Chattanooga. Narrative 4, a global organization founded by Lisa Consiglio and bestselling author Colum McCann, harnesses the power of storytelling to foster increased empathy and a mutual understanding of differences among people. This is our kind of thing, right?!


I recently joined the N4 Artist’s Network, having trained to become a facilitator last year. The Story Exchange, Narrative 4's primary tool, asks two people to partner and tell each other a personal story. Afterward, everyone rejoins the larger circle, and partners tell each other’s story in the first person. I've participated in and facilitated several story exchanges in the past year, and they're always powerful. Some stories are harrowing, some are funny, all are poignant.


Says Consiglio:


Once students have tapped into someone else’s brain, imagination, life even, they get inspired to learn more. We’re all human and experience the same emotions, and our similarities far outweigh our differences, [though] you would never know that in today’s society. Narrative 4 is designed to break down barriers, shatter stereotypes, and ask us to suspend engagement with the rest of the world for a moment to go into the depths…

The Story Exchange at UTC last week was special because Colum McCann (along with Ishmael Beah!) was in town for a larger N4 event the next night, and there was a rumor that Colum would stop by our session toward the end of it. The N4 employees, some of whom had never met the founders, were palpably excited, as were we all! When Colum arrived as promised, the facilitator, in his excitement, threw him delightedly and unceremoniously before our group. Colum smiled, asked how much time was left, and commenced telling us about himself, his work, and his steadfast belief that stories change the world.


You know how some humans have a preternatural ability to calm an entire room? Colum McCann has that ability. My daughter, a writer and huge McCann fan, chalks it up to him being Irish. “The Irish have some magic about them,” she said, and while I don’t disagree, it was more than that. It’s almost as if we in the room hadn't realized we’d been holding our breath – holding our breath because the world has exploded and the culture war is seething, and everywhere now, the politics of hate is thriving. But then Colum walked in and somehow gave us more air to breathe with his unwavering faith in people and our ability to change the world if only we shared enough stories. “We can do without books,” he said, “but we cannot do without stories.”


McCann’s novel, Apeirogon, is a fictionalized account of two men, one Palestinian and one Israeli, both of whom have lost daughters to the conflict. Rami Elhanana, who is Israeli, lost his daughter to a suicide bombing. Ten years later, Bassam Aramin’s ten-year-old daughter was shot by an Israeli soldier. Bassam is Palestinian. The two men met through Combatants for Peace, an organization that works to end the occupation of Palestine. Having met in 2005, they have become very close friends. Both fathers have lost their daughters to the conflict, both are working for an end to the occupation, an end to the violence, and ultimately, for peace.


Both / And, amen.


If they can do it, friend, surely we can, yes?


Love.

Sara




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ゲスト
2023年11月08日

Amen. And thank you.


Jolie

いいね!
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