Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Saying ‘No’

‘Not in my name’ is the phrase that has frequently come into my mind of late. Now what often arrives there is simply ‘No’. Especially to Donald Trump, his appalling treatment of migrants and children, his dismissal of so many vital issues such as protecting the environment and his ignorant rudeness, including to Teresa May (whose policies I also cannot abide).

Yesterday was the day of protest. Trump vaingloriously trumpets his ownership of so many properties in Scotland and Ireland (thankfully not Wales) and seems to feel boastful pride in acknowledging that there will be public outcry against him. That’s no reason not to protest.

‘No’ has to be the word. It may have no impact at all on the man himself. But at least the word draws a line against his appalling behaviour and maybe the clearer the line, the more people will put themselves behind it.

The ‘No’ puts me in mind of that inspiring Maori story from New Zealand.

A Maori story: The friends of the tree

A fine straight tree stood in the forest. Ratu, hero of many stories, decided to cut it down and make a canoe from the tree. So he sharpened his axe and chopped the tree down.

But when Ratu returned next morning to work on the tree, the tree was standing upright again. Dew glistened on its leaves, sun shone on its rough bark, birds were singing from its branches.

Ratu was surprised and annoyed. Not hesitating to think about what had happened, he took up his axe and once again chopped the tree down. This time, he lopped off all its branches as well.

But next morning, what did he see? The tree was standing upright again and all its branches were restored. Insects were busy on its leaves, birds hopped around on its branches and the wind sang round the tree as it passed.

Now Ratu was angry. He ran at the tree and chopped it down for the third time.

Returning to the forest early next day as before, he was surprised to hear a great noise ahead of him and even more surprised when he came within sight of the place where he’d cut down the tree. The fallen tree was surrounded by all the many creatures who normally lived under the tree or on it – bees, beetles, birds and many other creatures. They were all working to repair the tree, putting its branches, leaves and bark back in their right places. Already the tree was almost complete.

Then, before Ratu’s eyes, the spirits of the forest appeared and started to pull the tree upright. Now Ratu’s anger overwhelmed him and he ran out of his hiding place shouting: ‘Stop all this! This is MY tree.’

Whereupon the animals, birds and spirits of the forest all turned towards Ratu and with one voice replied: ‘And who gave you permission to kill one of our trees?’

The end …

But the end of this story feels like a new beginning. May we all turn and protest in our own way.

PS: Hard to photograph trees, easier to photograph bark!

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2 Responses to “Storytelling Starters ~ Saying ‘No’”

  1. jean edmiston Says:

    Dear Mary – thank you for this – and I love the story — made me cheer Yes Yes for the tree and all the plants creatures and people this story supports and NO NO to Trump and all those who spread hatred and destroy.

  2. Mary Medlicott Says:

    Yes, yes. No, no. I’m with you. All the best, Mary

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