Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Tell me the whole story

If you were to hear stories about me in early 90's you would hear stories about Nicaragua.  You would see me as a young women struggling to adapt in a foreign country, and not doing it very well.  You would have a certain impression of me.

However if you were to talk to friends from Chihuahua in the mid 90's, you would hear a completely different story.  You would hear about a young mom who loved Mexico, loved tacos, and was well adapted to life in Mexico.

If you were, however,  to hear stories about me in the 2000's you would see a very different picture...a hockey mom who seemed to live at the arena.  A mom who lived, ate and slept hockey. Who cheered her boys on with much enthusiasm.

If you were to talk to friends in my life right this minute you would hear a completely new story.  Some of the stories from my life are sad, some are crazy, some are filled with joy and bliss.  One story never paints a complete picture.  Not about a person, and most certainly not about a country, a people or a nation.

I recently watched a TedTalk called "The Danger of the Single Story"  (Video).  Watch it if you would like to get a full explanation.

The speaker, a young African lady, states that the way we create a single story about someone is to show them as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what people will become.  Single stories can create a poor worldview.  This is because single stories are often told with a certain power structure.  So, if a power broker wants to have you believe something they can.  This is done by how the story is told, who tells it, when it is told, how many times it is told.

This power "is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person."  Just look at how the media does this...  One does not need to go too far back.  During the elections in the USA how many single stories were told about Mexicans and other nationalities.  Did they ever paint the true story or the complete story? Is every Mexican a murdered? A rapist? Most certainly not.

The problem with the single story is that it creates stereotypes.  Not that those stereotypes are necessarily untrue, but rather that they are not the complete story.  Often times the incomplete story becomes the whole story to us.  It becomes the story we believe to be true.

I am not only one of the above stories, but rather a combination of all of them.  The collage of stories makes me who I am.  I would not want someone to think of me based on a single story, especially one that paints me in a negative light.  I then must be mindful to never do that to another person, nation, country, race, etc.

Right now our world is full of single stories about various races, countries, etc.  These single stories are creating animosity amongst people and nations.  Let us be mindful of the fact that there are two sides to very coin, and many stories to hear.

There are many single stories about Canada that would not paint us in a very good light.  This is true of many countries.  Let us listen to one another, let us tell stories which paint a fuller and more complete picture.

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