The Danger of a Single Story
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie )
I love this talk. I love … love… love how she uses simple every day examples to show how one single story repeated over and over again can become the defining factor in how we perceive something. You can watch the video on TEDTALK by Chimamanda on “The Danger of a Single Story”.
I love my country but I find it frustrating that I get friends (mostly from the West) who call me up or message me on Facebook asking if I am flooded in. The particular flood that they are concerned about may not even be something that I am aware of and yet it defines how they see Bangladesh. The current political unrest is also something that people are concerned about, not just here but abroad as well. It is defining how our partners – business or development aid – are now seeing our country. Are we just a country that is poverty-stricken, flooded and politically unstable? is that our story?
When I look around me, I see people and I see the potential still left in this country. I look at my friends and I see that each person who helps themselves is one less person who is waiting for someone else to help them. I see the volunteers at all the organizations that I support and I see that there are still people here who believe enough to donate their time, effort and money to help others live a dignified life.
For every garment worker who has been tortured and killed, there are thousands more who has found economic independence and a decent workplace. I see social reformers who are willing to speak up for someone else, even when the message is not something that those in power want to hear. They risk their lives to put the truth out there, to shine a light on the darkness, to preserve the secular, sovereignty that we have. We, the people, should never forget that each one of us is part of a story that affects every one else. Each one of us is creating our own reality and thereby defining the reality of those around us with everything that we say, do and think.
I would rather be known for the hero who lost his life trying to stop the mugging of 2 helpless women. I would rather be known for all the street children who are seeking a better future by making the effort to gain an education. I would rather be remembered for the rickshaw-puller who saved half of his earnings until he had enough to establish a health centre in his village. I would rather remember the outpouring of pledges and donations that this old man got when his story was published in the newspaper. I would rather remember the farmer who started to farm a new vegetable in the off-season to make extra money and in the process ended up bringing prosperity not just for himself but for 5-6 villages in his locality.
Our story is an amalgamation of all these stories, the success and the failures. The many facets and truths that make up the whole.