The intergenerational passing on process enables older community members to communicate customs, thoughts, aspirations, and behaviors to young people (Harwood, 1998). It is this passing on of knowledge between mature and immature members of society that perpetuates human development and continuous renewal within communities. Spindler (1974) speaks about social systems and community members as connecting pieces for cultural transmission when he writes, “Belief systems of the culture support linkages, and the educational institutions and processes (schools, churches, initiation ceremonies, families) teach children” (p. 4). The social and moral aspects of initiation and puberty rites help children transition from being passive members to participatory members of their communities. Thus, social customs that involve youth initiation rites are customary practices among people from different countries.
Narratives presented through storytelling is an ancient method that has always served to bring people together and to stimulate creativity, wisdom and compassion. Every human culture (African, African American, Asian, Greek, Native American, and others) seems to create stories, sometimes using metaphors and parables, as a way of explaining and understanding the world. Leslie Silko in her essay, Landscape, History, and the Pueblo Imagination (1996) writes on the power of storytelling. The oral narrative or “story” became a medium in which complex Pueblo knowledge and belief was maintained. Whatever the event or the subject, the ancient people perceived the world and themselves within the world as part of an ancient continuous story composed of innumerable bundles of other stories(p. 887).
Thus, one of the greatest benefits of stories is that they give people places to feel intimate and means for connecting to the human experience. When people use story to build global communities, they speak a universal language that defies space and time and has the ability to unite human spirits (Atkinson, 1995). Story has incredible healing powers that seep into the souls of people who need to hear the voices of individuals who live outside their immediate environments. Robert McAfee Brown writes, “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today” (Priebe, 2007, ¶ 6). Finding a common thread such as storytelling provides people from diverse backgrounds with a global platform, which can facilitate the transformation and sustainability of communities worldwide.
Storytelling has the potential to teach, heal, transform, and empower as people become more intimate by sharing ourselves through stories because “A life story is really the story of the soul of a person. The most powerful life story expresses the struggle of a soul” (Atkinson, 1995, p. 4). Writing from the soul connects stories to the human experience. This is true for writer and anthropologist, Zora Neale Hurston (1937/1987), who discovered voice when she developed her own unique form of storytelling. Hurston (1987) believed that all things had a time and place. She expressed her need to be free of unresolved story endings in this quote, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer” (p. 38).