We all have our own stories that shape the way we are, the way we think, the way we behave, and the way we live our lives. Every chapter of our lives shapes the people we are and the people we will become. And each of our own journeys is meaningful regardless of our background—worth sharing and being listened to.

The very practice of this story interchange facilitates greater understanding of each other, the problems we’re facing, and begins the process of identifying possible solutions to seeking restoration between us, in our community, and for the city as a whole.

Stories Help Us Understand One Another

On a more concrete level, these stories allow people to know others’ background. They motivate people to understand why one would think, behave, and live the way they do. In a world full of cultural and racial differences — we want to be known, heard, and understood because we want to be valued. However, we tend to forget to listen and understand. We rob people of their dignity when we form our view of them with incomplete and inaccurate understanding of their true identities—which we obviously don’t want. To hear and to listen to people different than us not only increases our understanding of them but also validates their dignity. We should share our story recognizing its potential impact on people but most importantly we should learn to listen to seek understanding rather than to form judgment.

Stories Assist Us In Understanding the Issues We’re Facing

Another way they help a lot is how they can capture some of the important lessons in history to address critical social issues, – including racism, which is still prevalent in today’s society. History has shown us times and times again that several horrors of the past occurred because of false judgments between races, and our personal stories can also illustrate that. Without the stories shared in the past and the present, we would have not known the brutality misunderstanding and misconceptions can bring to the society. We can learn from our past and current situation that forming prejudices and perceptions of people who are different than us can create great division among individuals, groups or countries. Where we were born and who we are born to can have a great influence on the trajectory of our future and these differences in backgrounds that define our identity and our beliefs will affect the way we view others and the way we treat others. As we reflect on history and our own stories on racial relations, we are to address the sad reality in our century, and work to destroy this picture of a “us-and-them” relationship and instead build a “us” relationship.

Stories Help Identify Possible Solutions to Our Issues

Our stories, made of trials and victories, not only reflect our brokenness and our imperfections but also our longing to be complete. There are no stories that are not problem-based and there are no stories that do not long for restoration. As we look to make the world a better place for all, we are to understand how stories can help us identify solutions to our issues. Sharing and listening to each others’ stories enhances our ability to analyze and learn from experiences. Since birth, each one of us was exposed to stories, which led us to form ways or abilities to use stories to process information. We subconsciously create for ourselves a framework that facilitates the way we resolve problems. We tend to look back to our own stories or other people stories to form a pathway to resolve complex issues in our lives and others’.

As we think about current social issues, we can use the power of stories to identify solutions together to make a step in resolving them.

These are what Polis aims to do for the community as it tries to help people change many cultural norms so they can thrive.

“Stories are much more powerful than stats and other forms of presenting information,” said Polis Founder Phil Hissom. “Until we share our own stories with others, we won’t unravel racism in America. It is woven into the fabric of our nation. We need to figure out where we are at before we can begin to fix anything.” In the end, our stories can capture people’s hearts to motivate them to take actions for a better world. Our stories are gifts to others and others’ stories are gifts to us. It promotes the truth that no matter where we are from or who were born to, we all have something to bring to the table. We all have an ability to influence others positively through our life journey and the different skills we have  and gifts we’ve been given to work for the greater good. Our stories are a powerful instrument to show and appreciate each individual’s uniqueness and their potential to work for a purpose bigger than ourselves: to bring restoration by working together with an understanding of our peers and the problems they face.