Stories Can Heal Us


Ever since the 2020 Presidential election was called for Joe Biden, there’s been talk about the need for national healing.

There’s no doubt we must tend to the wounds our country has suffered. We must step away from the precipice of division and rancor we’ve been pushed toward for the last four years. But how? What does “healing” even mean on a national scale?

How do we knit back together our identity as Americans when our individual experiences are so different? In the face of a devastating pandemic, how do we embrace a shared future, even as we disagree on how best to get there?

I don’t know the answer. But my gut tells me that one way to heal includes telling and listening to stories.

You can probably recall a story that, the moment you heard it, changed the way you experienced the world. My first life-changer was Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss. In it, Horton the elephant safeguards a tiny world no larger than a speck of dust. It was the first time I understood that not all of us see the same things, and we must trust our instincts even in the face of skeptics.

I’ve seen how stories can change minds and hearts and propel people to action. Mothers’ stories, scribbled on old school blogs, helped me feel less alone (and weird) as a new parent. Friends’ stories, shared in Facebook Live videos, moved me to get politically active.

We need nuance, we need escape, we need each other. Our stories can be the threads that pull us back together.

Follow-up: My friends told me their favorite storytellers