A great storyteller is not one who captivates you or inspires you but one who moves you to action. Storytelling helps us to change. Great storytellers choose the right stories.
In his book A Lucky Boy, Thomas Buergenthal tells his story as a survivor of Auschwitz. He was one of the very few children who survived this concentration camp. One of the stories that he and his mother, also a survivor, held onto during those terrible years was that when he was only a little boy her mother had been told by a fortune teller that he would be lucky.
When you read his autobiography this is the guiding thread, the theme and the main story: he always considered himself lucky, despite the terrible events he had to endure.
And because he always considered himself a lucky person he thought he could do something about it, so he studied law and specialised in international human rights. Eventually he became judge at the International Court of Justice at the Hague. In an interview in 2016 he said:
“Our human cruelty against each other is never very imaginative. The serious violations, regardless of where they took place, were the same. […] The world is reacting the same way they’ve reacted to so many things before. When I see the migrants, I see myself in the eyes of the children. This is what was happening to us.”
Thomas Buergenthal chose empathy and compassion because he told himself a different story, he decided that he was a lucky boy.
Before telling our story, we need to choose one. By choosing our story, we are framing the possibilities that we can achieve in this world. Think about Thomas – always aim high. You are lucky too.
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