The need for stories…

Another day on the farm under my belt! After doing the chores—feeding the chickens, dogs and horses, and watering the cows, I sat down to a nice meal of fresh eggs with tomato, spinach, basil and cheese. There’s nothing as satisfying as knowing where your food came from. I really appreciate all that my dad has done for himself on his land back home. It’s a lot of work, but the result is so rewarding.

While reading Half the Sky tonight, it discusses that “statistics have a dulling effect, while it is individual stories that move people to act.”

“In one experiment, research subjects were divided into several groups, and each person was  asked to donate $5 to alleviate hunger abroad. One group was told the money would go to Rokia, a seven-year-old girl in Mali. Another group was told that the money would go to address malnutrition among 21 million Africans. The third group was told that the donations would to to Rokia, as in the first group, but htis time her own hunger was presented as part of a background tapestry of global hunger, with some statistics thrown in. People were much more willing to donate to Rokia than to 21 million hungry people, and even a mention of the larger problem made people less inclined to help her.” ~Half the Sky

Why is that? Why is it so easy for people to shrug their shoulders and turn their heads to these issues that span across thousands and thousands of people?

It’s because it’s more realistic, more feasible to help one person than it is to try and help millions. When you know that your $5 is going directly to an individual, who you’ve been able to get to know through their story, you can not only sympathize, but empathize with that person and are more willing to help out.

While it is great that La Puente has these staggering statistics about poverty and homelessness in the San Luis Valley, what we really need to do is start giving these statistics a face. I really want to make it a personal goal of mine that we do just that, specifically while I work on SEED Micro-Enterprises during the next 9 months.

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One thought on “The need for stories…

  1. Right, even if I could relate to a number like a million, my contribution would be a drop in the bucket, just an inconsequential rounding error, so why bother. If I were told that there were seventy-one starving people, even without personal stories, I might not only contribute, but I might begin to imagine ways that those individuals — or that group — might be helped to become self-sustaining. What you are doing is potentially more significant than even a large monetary contribution.

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