The function of storytelling for humans has been quintessential, especially for our transition from life as hunter-gatherers to the new social environment of civilization. The stories we tell ourselves and the others around us shape the reality we live in and ultimately work as the catalyst for our mutual understanding of the world. Stories show what’s real, what isn’t real, and where we fit in all of it.
In virtually all folklore, one can find stories shared by cultural communities over hundreds of years. These tales serve as a unifying force in the culture, keeping it coherent by offering a common explanation for the world and whatever happens in it. In time, as cultures merge and interact, stories are blended together into narratives that inhabit our collective minds. Especially with the hyperconnectivity of the internet, this process has accelerated massively. What’s for sure is that even in a globalized, post-national world, stories will continue to have the same function, but on a larger scale.
Our guest for today is Jamie Oliviero, a storyteller from Canada. Jamie started telling stories early in his life and has been doing so for more than 45 years. His love of storytelling has led him to many places around the world, from Africa to Australia, in search of indigenous stories that contain fundamental lessons about the human experience. In our conversation, he was kind enough to share some of them, sharing their origins and offering beautiful insights into each of them. We also talked about the pacifying power of stories, how they promote and nurture understanding and compassion, and how the digital age is shaped by the power of sharing them with each other.