In the story A Thousand and One Arabian Nights, the protagonist Sheherazade faces death at the hand of a King unless she can tell a string of stories that prevent him from taking her life once dawn breaks. The side of the story less known is why the King has gotten to his current state: grief stricken from an unfaithful Queen, the King decides to take his vengeance on the kingdom by wedding and then sacrificing a new Queen every night. Sheherazade willingly decides to become the next Queen to prevent the unnecessary killings, as she knows she holds the power of storytelling that can slowly unravel the grief the King holds in his heart, thereby saving the kingdom.
Stories, or myths, such as these were told to provide valuable lessons to society. In the case of A Thousand and One Arabian Nights, we learn that unconsciously acting out on grief can create harm to others, and by utilizing inherent and powerful gifts we can help others. Myths were told as ways to remind people the importance of knowing ones place as an individual in a larger collective society; to create meaning as to how individual actions help and contribute to the larger world. Today, our myths have been diluted and in many ways subdued by technology and science: in a world where facts and logic are at our fingertips, where is room for the personal meaning-making that myth provides?
At R2B, we believe the trend of myth and making meaning is necessary to create individuals who can identify their gifts and use them for greater good. A way to do this is to create service learning projects that bring the individual out into the world, where societal talents can be honed and put to the test. As students in schools and individuals from corporations engage in service learning projects, they begin to act upon latent and hidden skills thus identifying personal meaning in a shared environment. In other words, service learning helps individuals establish roles to create a personal myth that is then shared with a collective audience. This process, once repeated and implemented in all spheres of society, can create a wave of actions that lead to nothing short of “saving the kingdom”…we’d like to start with the educational system.