Before the written word, people relied on storytellers to share information.
These people were highly regarded, but they never truly knew everything there was to know. Without the luxury of the internet, or even many books, no skald told the same story the same way. However, the teachings passed on to them would remain the same with the idea behind each saga retold, behind every rimur or simple kenning shared.
Even now, in our more recent history, storytelling helps us learn from experiences of our ancestors. We are changed by the words and deeds of those who came before us, and in keeping their stories alive we continue to better ourselves as a people.
The trouble is, with the internet we have grown to lack the desire to truly learn and grow. We are moving further away from what our ancestors struggled through in order to learn simple tasks and, because of this, we take the knowledge we have access to for granted. It is only when we come together and share as a community that we can all grow together. The more we seclude ourselves in our homes, the more we interact through our devices rather than making true connections in person, the more we will see our fellowships falling apart.
It is hard to convey the full lesson of a story through the written word, just like our knowledge keepers pass on teachings through stories using different emphasis. Sometimes the narrative will highlight a different kenning from the last time a story was told. With everything we have passed on through generation after generation, how much have we lost due to the few who keep important information to themselves? We shouldn’t allow this to continue.
A quote from George Feeny from the TV show Boy Meets World speaks to the problem we face: having access to an infinite amount knowledge, but not appreciating its worth:
“…Champions of what, Mr. Matthews? Of a generation whose verbal and mathematical skills have sunk so low, when you have the highest technology at your fingertips? Gutenburg’s generation thirsted for a new book every six months. Your generation gets a new web page every six seconds. And how do you use this technology? To beat King Koopa, and save the princess. Shame on you.”
Information is what brings us together. This knowledge was – and should still be – what brought individuals into a community. Whether through skills or storytelling, everyone had something to share with their neighbours. While material wealth has its place in society, it is with wisdom that people truly thrive. Someone can take your wealth, but not your knowledge and skills.
By: MCpl Eric Caissie, Air Wpns Sys Trg Stds Flt, CFSATE, Well and Pine Grove Kindred (WPGK) – CFB Borden Pagan Community Council Secretary