“And, you know, we all tell stories in all sorts of extraordinary ways. We tell stories about how we dress. We tell stories about what we eat, by what we drive and – but at the end, there are other larger stories and, you know, our government tells us stories to send our kids to war and other people tell stories so that we’ll fall in love with each other or fall out of love with each other, and corporations tells us stories in order to get us to try and buy their products.
But in the end, what it comes down to is that old Faulknerian notion that, you know, what is at issue here is the human heart. And we all want to be meaningful. And I was just at this Story Swap convention, and Terry Tempest Williams was one of the writers there. And she said this. She said, you know, people of all – we think that the narrative is that everyone wants to be safe and middle class and so on. No, really, everybody wants to tell somebody else their story and to be considered meaningful and decent, and that we’ve done something in the world. And that’s, I suppose, what I learned about stories.”
“I think one of the biggest political failures and the biggest social failures over the past few years has been the failure of empathy, not being able to look at the other person down the street. And we sit inside, we draw the curtains, we close down, we put on the plasma television, and we say, we are the important ones. And really, what’s important is what’s happening down the road. And if we can understand what’s happening to others, then we can finely, sort of, understand what’s happening to ourselves because there’s really loneliness in not being able to tell your story.”
*From Talk of the Nation‘s interview with Colum McCann on NPR 26June2012. For the rest of the interview transcript, or to listen online, visit here (I totally recommend it, he has a lovely accent!!).