Kiran Sirah – #WhatsYourPeace?

September 21, 2015

The Transformative Power of Storytelling

In 1972, four years before I was born, my family was forced, at gunpoint, to flee their homeland in Uganda. Around 50,000 Ugandan-Asians fled the border and settled in new countries. My family went to Britain. They couldn’t take personal possessions with them—even mementos or objects of faith—but they could take their traditions and beliefs. Though I was born in the UK, these values were passed to me through the stories of my parents and others. They helped me form a sense of identity that was closely connected to a home I could not then see. Their stories became my vehicle for understanding not just local, but global, traditions and cross-cultural connections. I began to see that there was a world beyond the divisions and labels that society imposes upon us, and that when you allow yourself to see beyond borders, you truly become a citizen of the world.

All of us have the opportunity to use our stories as a binding force whenever and wherever there is conflict, tension, fear or suspicion. Finding those common threads helps us build civility and treat others as we ourselves hope to be treated. From your lips to other people’s ears, storytelling is a truly democratic art, requiring no tools or props. We are, each of us, storytellers. To tell our stories is more than just a human right. It is a gift we can give the world.

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