Without a Story, It’s Just a Fact

Without a Story, It’s Just a Fact
by Rob Chatfield

A study published in 2011 by the Journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies shows 46% of European countries do not collect data based on origin of race.

In 2018, France removed the word race from its Constitution.

These are interesting, but largely forgettable facts. Logic, reason, and facts by themselves do not stoke human emotion. Facts need context and need to strike a chord to become memorable. Facts – when presented as stories – can become instantly memorable.

Can you imagine changing the FOUNDING article of the U.S. Constitution? Yet that’s exactly what France did when it took the mantra that France “shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion” and threw race out of the equation in 2018.

This was done by unanimous vote! From the far left to the far right and every faction in between, the French decided race is an outdated, meaningless, social construct. Understand there are 577 members in the French National Assembly representing 9 different political parties whose last unanimous vote required large grocery stores to donate unsold, edible food to charity after learning the grocers’ previously poured bleach on this food to prevent scavenging.

Race was first introduced to the French Constitution in 1946 as a direct response to racist theories expounded by the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (better known to most as Nazi Germany). Over 500,000 French citizens were killed during the largest race-based atrocity in modern history and they’ve determined race no longer matters. What does that say about the United States?

I added context to facts and may have piqued your interest, but these facts are missing a vital ingredient to make them memorable: THE STORY.

Our brains are hard-wired to receive facts in the form of a story. Storytelling creates empathy and helps humanity better understand issues. All cultures throughout all times of humanity use some version of storytelling to teach universal truths. So, this tale is not yet complete…

Enter the United States Constitution, an imperfect document to be sure, but nonetheless one that has guided this country for 230 some odd years. How do you get people to understand and care about the importance of the document, the role it’s played in our country’s history, and its importance moving forward? FIND THE STORY

That is what is on display in our upcoming three-part series, A More or Less Perfect Union. The stories embedded within the interpretations of the Constitution have fueled debate, been the source of justice for some, and a source of anguish for others. These are the stories of individuals who have been saved and betrayed not necessarily by the document itself, but by those bending the interpretations of it to their political leanings.

The importance of these stories is why we’ve dedicated an entire Constitution Day at FreedomFest this year. Three sessions, taking place on Friday, July 19, titled A Constitution in Writing, A Constitution for All, and Our Constitution at Risk – all focus on different aspects of this common theme. The host of the series, Judge Douglas Ginsburg, will appear at all three session and is also featured on the Main Stage.

The next time freedom, liberty, or the Constitution pops up in conversation, arm yourself with the stories to really bring your point home. This year at Freedomfest the Constitution is in full focus, but without you out in the community bringing it to life, it’s just a piece of parchment.

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