My last column was about four words I believed could make the world a better place. If a person could simply say to another, "Tell me your story," and then listen quietly, both people would change. Within days, I received hundreds of letters requesting "Tell Me Your Story" bumper stickers I'd promised free, and almost as many e-mails - all from people wanting to join a movement that could change the planet through the listening to others' stories.
A woman in Montgomery County said she wanted to open a coffeehouse where people would come just to listen to one another's stories. She'd call it "Cup of Grace." A dental hygienist in New Jersey said she used to ask her patients how they were doing. After facing colon cancer, however, she became a better, more caring listener. Now she asks patients to tell her their stories. She told me she keeps a journal filled with some of the incredibly touching and open stories she has heard. Several writers said the most stressful part of their jobs is that they don't have time to really listen to people. Loraine, 83, wrote, requesting a bumper sticker and then told me her story about the loss of a brother in World War II.