The lives of working class people are filled with stories people share every day about their struggles, perspectives, and aspirations.
Working class life is woven together with the stories people share every day. We go over them on our rides home, we hold onto dear ones, share others’, and sometimes we become so passionate we try to give them new life in text, audio, or videos. Events are retold when sharing coffee before work starts, when an old hand mentors a rebellious youth, when a co-worker comforts another after getting torn apart by a boss, and when we try to slow our pulse after work with our loved ones.
Working class experiences of storytelling have not been taken seriously enough among these of us who try to organize and build a better society. On a human level, that world of storytelling is a deep mine of culture and struggle that all of us should seek to understand, grapple with, and participate in (particularly if we are motivated by the belief that everyday people are the ones to solve society’s ills). Even further though is the idea that the act of telling our tales of work and struggle can change people.
Storytelling doesn’t happen after you think and feel, like printing a file from a computer. The act of telling a story is an act of reflection and thoughts. That is, stories don’t simply reflect what we think; telling a story creates new thoughts and changes old ones. We all have probably felt a shift that happens when we recount something to other people. When arguing with a lover, we come to see another angle in our actions when listening to ourselves putting what happened into words. Being disciplined, our memory of a work incident makes mistakes, and well-thought our moves appear in different light. There is something powerful in the process of someone who participates in struggle finding a voice to their experiences.
These stories involve both things that happened and how we put them into words. In transforming memories into being, there is an imaginative and emotional shirt that takes place. As readers, the sensation of a great work can transport us, fill us with strange feelings and motivations, and expand our view of the possible and necessary. Reframing the role of stories requires us seeing this process as both part of being an active participant in social struggles, and as a way to participate. The transformations in our ideas, emotions, and imagination that happen through stories open us space for deeper work. Finding one’s voice is an element in the journey to becoming a revolutionary.
The transformations in our ideas, emotions, and imagination that happen through stories open us space for deeper work. Finding one’s voice is an element in the journey to becoming a revolutionary. Scott Nappalos | IWW Member and one of the editors of “Lines of Work. Stories of Jobs and Resistance“.