Storytelling…a Cultural Imperative!

What is a cultural imperative?  ‘Peoples living within the encompasses of cultures associated with very different ethnicities often imbue radically different moral imperatives, through identification processes carrying across generations. Such cultural imperatives prevalent within one culture may not have any direct equivalent within another culture…’ * 

Glaring examples of this are the ethnic groups who, putting themselves at risk for censor or abuse, have insisted on keeping their native language, rituals, and religions alive. ‘one culture may not have any direct equivalent within another culture…’  But the one imperative that has crossed all ethnic and cultural groups is storytelling. 

What is this imperative that most people feel….to tell stories?  It seems, to me, to be hardwired into our DNA.

We begin at an early age: making up stories (to ourselves) as we play with our dolls or cars. A child has no inhibitions when it comes to weaving a fantastical tale, frequently out loud, as they play. 
A mother or father sits at their child’s bedside and makes up stories until they fall asleep.
A comic book writer tells his stories with a few words, facial expressions, and action illustrations.
A poet tells their stories through rhyme, lyric or free verse.
A playwright creates their story so that others can tell it.
Another storyteller sees their stories happening in the far future. 
Another goes to the dark side of human nature and writes stories about things that go bump in the night.
A teacher tells a story to enhance the lesson. (I miss you, Miss. O’Connor.)
The novelist weaves a longer tale; taking their characters on adventures, discovering love, suffering defeats, and usually conquering all in the end. 
……even gossip could be considered storytelling.

I have worried out loud (and written about it here) that storytelling will die, be a thing of the past.  But now I believe that many of us do have that cultural imperative to tell and write down our stories. After all the synonyms for imperative are: involuntary, necessary, nonelective, obligatory, peremptory, required. 
 I don’t think storytellers can help themselves. We have to tell stories!




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