Individual stories are where real emotional power lies.
I mean, that 3,000 people were killed is quite something.
That millions were killed in WWII is staggering.
They’re numbers. They’re big numbers. They’re easy to wield, hard to comprehend.
“A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.”
Stories? Those are where power lies. Not because it’s not sad to lose thousands of people at once, but because stories are where we connect.
That’s why there are transcriptions of last phone messages from 18 years ago.
That’s why a group (or more than one, possibly) is putting together the story of each individual person we lost in the terrorist attacks in 2001.
That’s why Anne Frank’s diary is so compelling.
That’s why we don’t interview people who are Other.
When we hear someone’s story and are open to it, we connect with our shared humanity. There are parts of their story that could be our story. It touches us. (Sometimes a story touches us despite our best efforts to stay closed. Those are the best.)
So … listen to people. Especially people who are different than you. Listen to their story. Connect with them. Share your humanity.