“When we embrace wounds instead of escaping them, when we are broken open from the prison of self, we become worthy of deeper connections and different understandings. When we surrender fear so that we can know the pain of longing, we enter into a wondrous journey of discovery, transported by the eternal dance between self and other. The ultimate source of power is the courage of empathy.” – Payam Akhavan, 2014 Vancouver Human Rights Lecture
Several weeks past, I attended a workshop on the use of storytelling for effective social engagement. Sitting at my table was a doctoral student interested in better ways to communicate concepts of ecological economics to the public. As we chatted about the various metaphors embedded within conventional economics, particularly around growth and development, I started thinking about stories that focus on the challenge of communication and the power of metaphor. Searching my mind for examples, I found myself returning once more to the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation for inspiration, this time to an episode titled Darmok.
A friend recently introduced me to Brené Brown’s TEDx talk on vulnerability. If you haven’t seen it, check it out – there’s a reason why it went viral. Brown is an excellent speaker, or as she likes to call herself, a researcher/storyteller. There are great nuggets scattered throughout the talk: A story is just data with a soul, that numbing ourselves from the bad also numbs us from the good, that we constantly fear we are not worthy of love, belonging, and connection. What makes her talk especially powerful is that Brown doesn’t simply lecture. She reaches deep inside herself to share something shameful, uncomfortable, and genuine with a group of strangers. She demonstrates being vulnerable. Brown argues that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. Anyone can boast about exploits and accomplishments, but to share one’s shortcomings honestly for the purposes of self-improvement demands true courage. As I wrote in the piece Tao Today: A Sage’s Take on Modern Society, being vulnerable is essential for cultivating empathy in others. Only when we acknowledge …
I would like to cap off the recent series of posts on Taoism with an interview with Ursula Le Guin, conducted by Brenda Peterson. In it, the lifelong student of Taoism talks about how the Tao Te Ching has influenced her personal life and the construction of her worldview. As usual, I find her comments accessible, refreshing, thought-provoking, and hilarious. Here are some of my favourite passages:
This week’s Reconnect focuses on Ekostories with protagonists who demonstrate courage in non-traditional ways. By expanding their thinking, standing by their principles, and doing things their own way, each of them became emotionally healthier and mentally stronger. By working on becoming internally sustainable and resilient, they became natural leaders and role models who are capable of igniting the fires of change in the world they live in.