where the leaves fly off the trees like flocks of birds and the rain is so wet and cold it cuts you. but i still love it.
last night i got to meet ivan coyote. she was performing in the ‘dangerous mammals’ tour with bear bergman (cute, right?), and a local progressive librarian group put on the show. it was amazing.
in the course of the show, ivan said that she believes that storytelling is the best way to effect social change. that getting straight to the compassionate part of people, appealing to their humanity, showing them the way to seeing us as real human beings ourselves with thoughts and feelings and things in common with them, is the best way to change the world. that it’s not about legislation or protest rallies or all the other things we do out there to try to be heard.
which is funny, because i’ve spent a great deal of time working on changing the rules we live by from the top down — working to legislate transgender equality here in MA, working in my old school to promote lgbt inclusion in the curriculum. if my activist self had come of age a decade sooner, i would have been front and center in the marriage movement, as many of my friends now were then.
so i could have felt dismissed by ivan, or put down, but i didn’t. telling stories is one of my primary methods of communicating to people why these changes in the legal structure of our society are so important. there are lots of reasons why rules are important. they are a way of agreeing on something as a society. that’s where their power to do both good and evil lies — the rules are often self-reinforcing, amplifying our values to the point of distortion. right now we think that wealthiness for individuals builds national prosperity — and the gap between rich and poor has widened so much that our nation’s well-being index falls when this gap is taken into account. we are very worried about sex and bodies — so people whose sex is ‘different’, or who want control over their bodies, are marginalized and punished. sex workers, gay people, trans people, abortion-seekers — all are legislated almost out of existence in our country.
so i agree with ivan — and i think that those stories are what change people’s minds, so they can begin to collectively sign on to the new rules we try to put in place to reflect the humanity we all share.
i’d like to go on, but i promised myself i would write for 15 minutes only and i’m done now. maybe i’ll add some links to back up my points tomorrow…