Yana Paskova photo for the NY Times (5-11-08)
I really like the photo. And, of course, I really like the guy. But there's more to the story.
I believe that the greater story is the story about story. Storyteller Wade Davis puts it this way, "I have always felt that politicians will really not lead us anywhere and that polemics are not persuasive but that storytellers can change the world and the most powerful medium that we have is film."
Saturday, 10 May 2008 -- named Pangea referring to the time when the earth was a single continent-- films selected from more than 2500 gathered worldwide were shown at more than one thousand events, broadcast on more than 20 television networks -- live broadcasts in Cairo, Kigali, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro -- as well as over the web and to mobile phones. The program was described as a four hour "global campfire" including short films, subtitled in seven languages.
What was fascinating was how effectively networking and community involvement were structured into the architecture of the event. Yes, it was sponsored by Nokia (the cell phone will soon be the new computer, Internet connector and film-maker) and had its share of "celebrities" but the key was the social networking. That's it. It's not just a story but stories NETWORKED through all kinds of people like you and me and others who are just beginning to discover each other. These are the "diasporas reconnecting" in the words of Gilberto Gil.
I think Pangea Day was fantastic. You can check out the individual films, or a one hour version of the event, or the whole thing here. I watched the one-hour version and thought it was great.
[UPDATE: at Global Voices Online there is a fine report from Rio de Janeiro translated into English by Paula Góes. Check it out.]
I keep thinking, this is exactly how change is produced: in the beginning was the word and the word became story and it was offered to the people; because the people liked the story, they shared and performed it; and after a while the performance acquired a new name -- REALITY.
The story is about leaving the illusions of separation (with its wars and sufferings) in order to reconnect. A new foundation and stage in the story is the ability of the Internet and digital culture to allow like minds and shared hearts to find each other in the story working together for a better world.
To paraphrase an old campaign line from the first Bill Clinton campaign, "It's about friendship, stupid." OK, it's now it's called peer-to-peer and social networking and Internet 2 but it's about sharing and performing a story -- a story of empowerment and hope -- in the context of global connection. This is the story that Barack Obama has stepped into and is helping to perform along with many others.
Now that he is on the big stage he is surely receiving the archetypal "hero's tests" thanks to Hillary and the Reverend Wright. He's doing pretty well I think. Judging from his smile, perhaps he thinks so too. Our prayers are with him.
[Another Update: For those of you who wonder if Barack Obama might be a bit aloof and distant from the average person, listen to him talking about sports on Oregon radio.]
[Update May 17, 2008: There's an interesting NY Times article today about Obama's literary efforts: A Career Forged by Telling His Story.]