Powerful Stories and Their Messages

I confess. I have binge-watched the show Manifest for the last week on Netflix. It’s been a very long time since a show has kept me on the edge of my seat, craving more. I heard the same day I started watching that NBC was canceling the show. The first episode grabbed my attention. The fact that the passengers took a flight on my birthday made me want to see where the story would go. I can’t imagine what those passengers and families and friends felt when a plane that had been missing for five years reappeared; the passengers hadn’t aged one day, and the passengers had no knowledge of a time jump until they landed. It never dawned on me that the show would have a little supernatural, sci-fi, thriller, drama, and comedy rolled into one. I hope Netflix or another group will save the show because it’s one of the few I’ve found that I want to know more about what happens next.  

That’s what the power of good storytelling can do. Stories can take us out of the politics of the world and allow us to escape for a brief moment in time. We can feel like a kid again with the wonder and curiosity that seems to leave us as we age. Good stories transport us into new dimensions. They challenge our minds in the best ways possible. We get to see and experience differences of opinions without violence incited.  

Stories can provide other opportunities as well. For example, as a kid, I was in girl scouts. Many people were scouts growing up. An activity we all shared was the ability to camp. As we all gathered around the campfire, our leader engaged us in conversations about various ghost stories. Some were lame, and others scared the dickens out of us. We started learning new songs and some of those songs still stick in my head today. One of those songs is called “One Tin Soldier.” The lyrics are as follows: 

“Listen, children, to a story

That was written long ago

‘Bout a kingdom on a mountain

And the valley-folk below

… On the mountain was a treasure

Buried deep beneath the stone

And the valley-people swore

They’d have it for their very own

… Go ahead and hate your neighbor

Go ahead and cheat a friend

Do it in the name of heaven

You can justify it in the end

There won’t be any trumpets blowing

Come the judgment day

On the bloody morning after

One tin soldier rides away

… So the people of the valley

Sent a message up the hill

Asking for the buried treasure

Tons of gold for which they’d kill

… It came an answer from the mountain

With our brothers, we will share

All the secrets of our mountain

All the riches buried there

… Go ahead and hate your neighbor

Go ahead and cheat a friend

Do it in the name of heaven

You can justify it in the end

There won’t be any trumpets blowing

Come the judgment day

On the bloody morning after

One tin soldier rides away

… Now the valley cried with anger

“Mount your horses! Draw your sword!”

And they killed the mountain-people

So they won their just reward

… Now they stood beside the treasure

On the mountain, dark and red

Turned the stone and looked beneath it

“Peace on Earth” was all it said

… Go ahead and hate your neighbor

Go ahead and cheat a friend

Do it in the name of heaven

You can justify it in the end

There won’t be any trumpets blowing

Come the judgment day

On the bloody morning after

One tin soldier rides away

… Go ahead and hate your neighbor

Go ahead and cheat a friend

Do it in the name of heaven

You can justify it in the end

There won’t be any trumpets blowing

Come the judgment day

On the bloody morning after

One tin soldier rides away.”

The lyrics from that song tell a powerful story of greed, anger, betrayal, lust, and the repercussions of those actions. It warns us to be careful of greed and the thirst for power and conquests. The lessons the song teaches are still viable in today’s world. Perhaps even more so because of the violence, lack of tolerance, and hatred that is shared. No matter what people may say, stories have the power to make us think about pertinent issues. I don’t condone violence unless used in self-defense. But I’m not afraid to listen to the stories and take messages to heart. 

So many songs and stories are happy and upbeat. Some songs make us think about life in a philosophical way. One of my favorites was sung by Kermit the Frog from the Muppets. It’s called the Rainbow Connection. That song reminds me of wonder and imagination. I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoy it.  

I am changing gears for a minute. NCIS and its franchise are one of my favorite types of shows. The franchise never seems to run out of storyline ideas. I’m not a fan of how they keep killing off favorite characters, but I am acutely aware that people usually don’t stay in jobs for extended periods.  While I wouldn’t say I liked how they killed off (spoiler alert) Emily Fornell’s character, I would be remiss in acknowledging drug overdoses happen commonly. Shows like this tend to show the realistic side of life. Sometimes there are happen endings, but the harsh reality is the outcomes are not always joyous.

Countless stories affect us and make us do different things in life. The biggest thing we can do is to find ways to use the stories to make our lives a little better. If we do everything in this world to make everyone else happy, we are living other people’s stories. We all have stories that could make a bestselling book. Most of us will never see that happen for ourselves. Enjoy the stories that mean a lot to you, and use the time to chill.    

I’m using older stories and songs, but there are many more to choose from in our lives. Some of you prefer horror, some science fiction, while others are drawn to romantic, drama, thrillers, western, and a slew of other categories. No matter what your penchant for stories may be, keep experiencing everything you can. Stories help shape us and make us appreciate worlds we don’t understand. Have a great Monday, everyone. 

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