A Single Story

“She’s fat…”

“She’s lazy…”

“She should stop eating so many Twinkies…”

'Me' ~ by photolife512

A preconceived notion… A single story…

~   * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Recently, I was introduced to a video featuring Chimamanda Adichie, a Nigerian author/speaker, who presented an inspiring dialogue, The Danger of a Single Story, at a 2009 TED Talks event. Although the video is two years old, the impact of Chimamanda’s message was no less profound to me: If we choose to hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical understanding. We risk not discovering the truth about who that person really is.

“The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.”

** Click here to view the video **

For me, the idea of watching a twenty-minute video would typically not interest me much. Like so many other travelers on the information highway, I tend to crave instant gratification when surfing the internet. But something drew me into watching Chimamanda speak ~ perhaps her eloquence, her resolve, her understanding of the human condition. Needless to say, I watched the video, from beginning to end, and left with a much greater sense of enlightenment than I had had twenty minutes prior.

I was reminded of my own propensities to prematurely and incorrectly perceive people based upon their appearance, their ethnicity, their speech, despite my personal belief in being open-minded and understanding. No matter how hard we try, we are all susceptible to falling into the judgement trap.

This may very well be the single story that people who have never met me assume:

“She’s fat…”

“She’s lazy…”

“She should stop eating so many Twinkies…”

I don’t even like Twinkies®.

As with most stories, I possess many components ~ many chapters. I am complex and multi-faceted. I am not simply an overweight woman. Those who view me and judge me that way are people who don’t know that I was born with a sluggish metabolism… that I’ve attempted, and failed, at numerous diets… that I’m a health-conscious and active person… that I’m confident with who I am and content with what God’s given me.

More importantly, they don’t know the aspects which make me unique and important and an integral part of this world. By only taking into consideration my outward appearance, they don’t realize that I have a creative soul, a positive outlook, a passion for humanity, a desire to enrich people’s lives. They don’t know the struggles I’ve been through to get here, the battles I’ve had to face, or the challenges I’ve overcome.

In short, they do not realize that there is no single story for my existence.

Just as there is no single story for theirs.

* How can we truly know the integrity of a person based solely upon appearance or geography? Every life is an intricate book, full of tragedy, comedy, romance and heartache. There isn’t a long enough short story in existence that could encompass it all. * ~ EZ

I intend to consider these points the next time I assume I know what someone is all about. I may be pleasantly surprised to discover that I’m mistaken.

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1 Comment

Filed under A Touch of Inspiration, Musings and Thoughts

One response to “A Single Story

  1. Cecilia M

    oh wow –yes!

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