Flannery O’Connor wrote, “There is something in us, as storytellers and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least be offered the chance to be restored.”
There is something in the act of listening and telling stories that have the power to transform us. To tell our story requires vulnerability and courage and we saw both in abundance from our two speakers in our series on Breaking the Cycle of Violence. Two of the Open Tables Core Leadership Team, Micah and Amanda, took to the microphone to share their own experiences.
Micah shared a reflection on Ferguson and the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death. During the Ferguson protests, Micah was a graduate student teaching speech classes. Several of his students had to take leaves of absence in order to be present in Ferguson. One student was called as a reservist in the National Guard; the other an activist and protestor. Micah highlighted the tension in this reality–that two of his students would be on opposing sides of the protest line yet still members of his class.
Amanda brought a very personal story about her experience being a person of color adopted by white parents. She explored the realities of never quite feeling like she belonged and how that created a self-defense mechanism of distrust. Her own cycle of violence required the work she put in to learn a context and vocabulary to help dismantle the racism she herself had internalized.
After we heard from Micah and Amanda, we gathered into smaller groups of two to three people to share some of our own stories with one another. Afterward, we came back to the larger whole and shared our realizations:
- We must be aware of our own role in these kinds of stories.
- Some of the most potent violence we experience often comes from our family.
- We do not always see where the cycle of violence is broken until we reflect upon our stories and how we tell them.
- Our stories are powerful because we matter.
For your own reflection: Where have you encountered violence? What role did you play? How has storytelling shaped your understanding at that moment? How has your faith informed all this?
Click here to listen to our recording of the night.
Both Micah and Amanda mention some influences they had in their life. Here are some sources on their influences.