How You Can Use the Choral Tales Videos
to Promote Empathy, Understanding, Healing and Peace


If you are a teacher, professor, or group discussion leader, you can use the Choral Tales videos as conversation pieces to discuss and explore a number of themes as a group.

A link to each video is provided below in capitals.

Our suggested procedure is to choose one of the Themes, have your class or group read the relevant tale together, and then view the relevant video(s) — ideally on a large screen. You may wish to center your discussion around questions such as those posed below.

 
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Theme 1. Personal qualities — Empathy, Mutual Respect, Compassion, Generosity


Relevant Video: LORD OF THE CRANES

Some questions to consider:

  • How does the Lord of the Cranes show compassion after flying down to the world below?

  • Why do people treat him with contempt after he is dressed like a person without means?

  • In what ways does the Inn Keeper show kindness and generosity to the Lord of the Cranes?

  • How does the Lord of the Cranes reward the Inn Keeper for his kindness?

  • How does the Inn Keeper use his new-found wealth?

  • What advice does the Lord of the Cranes give the Inn Keeper before returning to the misty mountain tops?

 
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Theme 2. Peace — on a Personal Level


Relevant Video: THE HAPPY MAN’S SHIRT

Some questions to consider:

  • Why is the king discontented, even though he “has it all” ?

  • Do material wealth, status, and power provide lasting happiness? Why or why not?

  • When does the king have an epiphany, an “aha moment”?

  • How does the king react when he finds that the happy man doesn’t even own a shirt?

  • If deep, lasting happiness doesn’t come from external things such as wealth, status, and power, where does it come from?

 
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Theme 3. Peace — on a Local and Global Level


Relevant Videos and Story: THE HAPPY MAN’S SHIRT, CAT’S PROTECTOR, LORD OF THE CRANES, WATER DWELLER

After watching the videos and reading “Water Dweller,” consider the following questions:

  • The stories are drawn from people (African, European, Native American, Chinese) who are commonly considered to belong to different races. When there is racial prejudice in a town or city, what effect does it have on the ability of people to live together in harmony?

  • In the relation between countries, what effect does racial prejudice have on policies and the prospects for world peace?

  • In what ways do you think the Choral Tales contribute to healing prejudices?

  • Does international peace require that all cultures be the same, in order to get along?

  • How can we have international peace while respecting cultural diversity?

  • Let’s say we wanted to build a common foundation on which people of all cultures can agree. What elements would you include in it?



 
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Theme 4. The Power of Women, the Nature of Power


Relevant Video: CAT’S PROTECTOR

Some questions to consider:

  • What is power?

  • What was the Woman doing throughout the story?

  • Why did the Cat pay no attention to her at first?

  • What impressed the Cat about the Lion, the Elephant, and the man with a rifle?

  • Why did the Cat decide in the end that the Woman was the most powerful of creatures?

  • Is intimidation and the threat of violence a form of power?

  • Is service to others a form of power?

  • How is intimidation and the threat of violence different from service to others? How do they differ in their effects?



 
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Theme 5. Caring for the Environment / Kindness to Animals
Living in Harmony with Nature / Addressing Climate Change


1st Relevant Story: THE HAPPY MAN’S SHIRT

Some questions to consider:

  • On the Overview page, you can see a mandala inspired by the Choral Tales Project, painted by Heidi Bradbury. The artist combined references to each of the first 4 tales to be produced. Which animals are found in which story?

  • In 2019 the UN reported that one million species are in danger of extinction in the next few years, due to deforestation, over-fishing, pollution, and climate change. (Report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES)

  • What human beliefs and attitudes are driving the appetite to consume the world’s resources, destroying forests, depleting fisheries, and contaminating the air, rivers and oceans? (materialism, consumerism)

  • If consuming and accumulating material goods does not bring happiness, then what changes do we need to make in our beliefs, attitudes and behavior, to avoid a collapse of the world’s ecology on which the human race depends?

 
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2nd Relevant Story: WATER DWELLER

Some questions to consider:

  • Who is Apanchaneh? What does she represent?

  • In a time of drought, why does she ask for water for the animals when people obviously need the water for themselves?

  • What effect does the selfishness of the villagers have on their own water supply?

  • What result does it have when a woman generously shares her water with Apanchaneh’s animals?

  • Regarding climate change and species preservation, what actions can we take — locally and as a global village — that would be equivalent to the action of the woman who was kind to the animals?

  • If we are going to avoid losing a million species and seeing the planet’s ecosystems collapse, what changes do we need to make in our general attitude to the world of nature?




 
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Theme 6. Humanity’s Oneness and Unity


Relevant Videos and Story: THE HAPPY MAN’S SHIRT, CAT’S PROTECTOR, LORD OF THE CRANES, WATER DWELLER

Some questions to consider:

  • What is the difference between a folk tale and a story published by an author?

  • In which countries and continents are the folk stories used in Choral Tales found?

  • Where are these countries located on a world map?

  • Do you notice any common patterns that the stories share, despite their association with cultures thousands of miles apart?

  • What human qualities do these stories tell us that people around the world value?

  • If you were visiting the Earth for the first time from outer space, and all you saw were these stories, what conclusions would you draw about the human race?


 
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Theme 7. Appreciating Cultural Diversity, Healing Divisions and Prejudices


Relevant Videos and Story: THE HAPPY MAN’S SHIRT, CAT’S PROTECTOR, LORD OF THE CRANES, WATER DWELLER

Some questions to consider:

  • Watch some traditional Scottish dance online. Can you pick out elements of Scottish dance in “The Happy Man’s Shirt”?

  • Watch some traditional Tanzanian dance online. Can you pick out elements of Tanzanian dance in “Cat’s Protector”?

  • Watch some traditional Chinese dance forms online. Can you pick out elements of Chinese dance “Lord of the Cranes”?

  • What do cranes signify since ancient times in Chinese culture, and in East Asia as a whole?

  • What is the Chinese plucked instrument the performer is playing next to the choir? Why do you suppose it is played only at the beginning and end of the story?

  • Listen to some traditional Tanzanian music online. Can you pick out elements of Tanzanian music in “Cat’s Protector”?

  • Listen to some traditional Chinese music online. Can you pick out elements of Chinese music in “Lord of the Cranes”?

  • Listen to some traditional Scottish music online. Can you pick out elements of Scottish music in “The Happy Man’s Shirt”?

  • The story of “Water Dweller” comes from the Nahua, or Aztec, people of Mexico. Who are they?

  • Can you think of any stereotypes regarding people from Scotland, China, Mexico or Tanzania that these stories help to dispel?

 
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