Stories inside a Story

#Enough–The Story Continues

enough-national-school-walkout-protests-lawmakers-inaction-on-gun-violenceI had another article I was going to post today, but at noon I left my home office and drove to our neighborhood Starbucks for my birthday freebie.  While waiting for my drink to be made I stood by the newspaper stand.  The pictures of students protesting on the front page of the WSJ  caught my attention.  I bought the newspaper, grabbed my drink, and returned home.

I wrote a piece that addressed the Florida massacre back in February (“To Change Reality-Change the Story P3”).  I knew then this story was just unfolding and the story would gain momentum, and it has.   As of today,  the story is far from dying out, it was front page news on the Wall Street Journal, “Students Protest Gun Violence.”

Since the Douglas High School massacre, suggestions on how to deal with gun violence in schools has been discussed from arming teachers to passing a Stop School Violence Act.  I’m an educator, and have worked for 25 years in high schools.  As far as arming teachers, let’s just say, there are some teachers I wouldn’t want to see armed.  No, arming teachers is moving in the wrong direction.  There have been mass killings in churches, what would you say to a pastor or deacon holstering a gun?

980xOn the other hand, increasing the age, or making it harder to purchase a gun, is not the answer either. Cigarette Laws were passed to increase the age from 16 to 18, and now many state laws have 21 as the legal age to purchase a pack of cigarettes.  Under age children still are able to get a hold of a pack of smokes.

Increasing the price of guns won’t help.  When I was a kid, cigarettes cost .25 cents a pack.  Today a pack of cigarettes varies with Los Angeles and New York state pricing their smokes at around $4.35 a pack.  The laws and costs won’t detour smokers.  You must get rid of the product.

This is where the students have focused their movement on—removing the weapons.  According to the Wall Street article, “the students are demanding the ban on semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity magazines, and the expansion of background checks to all gun sales.”

ThompsonSubmachineAdInteresting enough, this was a similar argument used back in 1929.  Except the gun that the public wanted removed was the Thompson Submachine gun, and in 1934, the United States government enacted the National Firearms Act of 1934.  This made the sale of The Thompson Submachine Gun illegal for public sale, but could still be sold to the military.

The old adage, “Children should be seen and not heard,” is being shoved aside.  These are our future citizens and they are already becoming involved in our political process, and their voice is coming through Social Media as the tool for change, and it’s working.  The last generation to do this were the Baby Boomers, who became activists and politically active with everything from Civil Rights to United States involvement in Vietnam.  We kids couldn’t vote back then either!WT_May7_1970

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To Change Reality-Change the Story P3

Stories have always been designed to entertain, inform, educate and persuade. Stories also have the power to gain momentum and public opinion that can change lives as well as laws.

maddlogoFor example, the MADD movement began with the tragic death story of a 13-year-old girl named, Cari Lightner, who was killed by a drunk driver.  It was Cari’s mother, Candace, who decided that she would make her story known with the hope to help other families from experiencing her loss and tragedy.  From 1980 to present, MADD has seen a 55% reduction in drunk driving causalities.

megans-law-1In 1996, it would be the story of the kidnapping and brutal murder of seven-year-old Kelly Megan that would create a new Federal law—The Megan Law. Later, in 2016, President Obama, advanced and signed into effect the International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders.

On April 20, 1999, 15 students were massacred by two students with automatic weapons.  In addition to the 15 dead, 20 students were wounded.  Since the Columbine High School Massacre, 31 related school shootings have occurred in the US with 18 reported just this year alone.

douglas shooting copyThe cold-blooded murders that occurred recently at Douglas High School has been globally reported weakly as the “Florida shooting” or “Douglas H.S. shooting.”  The debates and arguments started immediately, with one side proposing the elimination of all Assault Weapons, while its opposition argued that the real issue is centering on mental health.  Suddenly, the victim’s story has been sadly put aside.

I wonder why the media has chosen not to use the word massacre?  17 human beings, 14 young people and 3 adults were murdered in cold blood.  Twenty-three wounded.  The definition of the word, ‘massacre’ means:  an indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of people.  Because this was more than just a shooting—it was, by definition, a massacre.

To change the reality, you need to change the story.

gun-control-7-728In a previous blog” Getting Results,” I commented on the 1929 Valentine’s Day Massacre, which happened in the city of Chicago, where seven gang members were executed by a rival gang posing as police officers. Five years, a new Federal law was passed, The National Firearms Act.  This law removed the Thompson Submachine Gun off the streets.

The difference between Columbine, twenty years ago, and today, is social media.  Twenty years ago, you got your news from newspapers and television.  Today, social media brings stories to life in real time.  Another difference was back in 1996, cell phones were only phones.  Today, they’re portable broadcast studios connected to a global network.

Like the 1929 Valentine Massacre, the 2018 Valentine Massacre is picking up momentum to change public opinions and maybe even laws.  That in part is due to the number of people using Social Media to read and tell the same story from a different perspective. The lines may be drawn, but you can be sure this story is still developing itself towards change.

you-must-be-the-change-you-wish-to-see-in-the-world-17

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The Quest

drama masksThe symbols of the two masks, one smiling and the other sad, comes from the Greek culture of theatre and drama ‘Comedy’ and ‘Tragedy’.  Comedy meant that a story had a good ending, like William Shakespeare’s, “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” or Allison Schroeder’s screenplay, “Hidden Figures.”  On the other hand, tragedy always had a bad ending; again, we see Shakespeare’s, “Romeo and Juliet,” or Director Paul Greengrass’ movie, “United 93.”

What all good stories have in common is their ability to change perspective.  A good lawyer will work hard to change the jury’s perspective of his client.  “Perspective is everything when you are experiencing the challenges of life.”  Joni E. Tada.

This brings us to our next genre—The Quest.  The purpose of the Quest is to build tension in the story.  Demonstrate how your character overcomes his challenges.  End with delivering a satisfying conclusion, which creates a shift of your audience’s perspective.   In the end, the real power in a good story is the ability to continue to change the perspective of your listener or reader.

dan brownDan Brown is a master at weaving history and urban legends into powerful stories.  His  stories have the ability to alter his audience’s perspectives by presenting new definitions on symbols ranging from Masonic symbols to the rituals in the Catholic Church.  The Biblical writers of the New Testament likewise did not just introduce Jesus but have continued to change human perspectives for the past 2000 years.

The Quest, as a storytelling tool, works best when the stories are true and personal.  It is about stories of true human adventures, trials and tribulations, and overcoming the odds; transferring the emotions from setbacks and successes to the listener or reader.  It begs simple questions, “What would I have done in that situation?”  “Could I do the same in my own situation or quest?”

father&sonThere is a story about an elderly woman who boarded a train.   After a few stops she noticed a father and his young son, who looked like he was probably nine years old, board the train.  They took their seats directly in front of her.

Soon, the son started talking loudly to his father, telling him about the clouds he saw outside and buildings and trees the train was passing by.  The father listened to him and nodded encouragingly.

After a while, the elderly woman got annoyed by how the young man was speaking, and learned forward and said to his father, “Excuse me, sir, but have you considered taking him to special doctor?”

The father smiled at her, and replied: “Actually, we’re just coming back from the doctor.  You see, my son has been blind since birth, and this is the first day he’s ever been able to see.”

You see, it’s about taking your listeners\readers on a journey’s quest reaching a high point of tension or emotional buildup, like a mountain peak, then suddenly dropping them, like a steep slope, not negatively, but more of an awakening—a new perspective.

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Getting Results

 

Consider this: 

st-valentine-s-day-massacre90 years ago, On February 14, 1929, at 10:30 a.m. four hoods dressed as policemen, two in uniform and two dressed in suits, walked into a garage of a known local gang hangout.  Once in, they lined up, facing the wall, seven men. The four poser officers suddenly brandished four sub-machine guns and massacred all seven.

Newspapers called it, “The Valentine Day Massacre.”  This was followed by a nationwide  outcry to halt gang violence.

submachinegunIn 1934, under the leadership of the new President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the National Firearms Act of 1934, was passed.  Its intentions were specifically to keep the Tommy sub-machine gun out of private hands.  Interesting enough the NRA supported the enactment of the new law.  It makes one ask what has changed?gun-control-7-728

90 years later, on February 14, 2018, at 2:30 p.m. one young man with a AK-assault rifle killed 17 people at a local public high school.  Besides the 17 killed, 14 were wounded.  In 90 years, what took four perpetrators to kill seven men—now only took one murderer to kill 17.

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sparkyIn 1929, it was J. Edgar Hoover, who voiced the cause for gun laws and more power for the FBI.  Today, it is Al Hoffmann Jr., a real-estate tycoon, who in the past has been the major Republican donator, and who has donated millions to the party.

But as of this massacre was personal in his own backyard of Florida, he had decided, “Enough is enough!” and has written an open letter to all donators and Republican leadership that funds will halt if future candidates oppose new gun legislation.

I have interpreted Al’s message as:  No Bucks for Buckshot!

This type of genre is called, “Spark-line’s.”  There are three reasons to use it:

  1. To inspire an audience to action
  2. To create hope and excitement
  3. To create a following.

As of today, 100-plus student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School took a bus to Tallahassee to speak to their representatives.  Other schools around the country are following suite.  There is great hope in changing the laws pertaining to assault rifles.

Online social media, television, newspapers, and talk radio topics are hot on this one.  The students are being backed by Hoffmann and other contributors, students turning 18 and parents across the nation are excited about making the change our nation needs to protect it’s future children and government.

Back to my lesson, Spark-lines draw attention to problems we have in our society and our personal lives.  The idea is to create fuel to motivate an audience towards a specific goal or action.

Throughout history, people have been moved to action even one speech.  I think of Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy and so many others.  Spark-line stories are great to motivate engagement for all social causes.  The main idea presenting what the world will look like if the following changes are made.

I look forward to reading your spark-lines in the future.