OFF THE BEATEN PATH – SINGLE STORY

I saw this amazing TED Talk from author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about the danger of a single story specifically about culture. A single story can limit ones understanding of a culture or a person. In her TEDTalk, she shares many personal examples of her experiences with the absorption of single stories. She believed what she read, heard, or as an adult what she experienced. She says, “show the people one story, over and over again, and they will believe that single story.”

chimamanda

I took the time to ponder over my childhood and how I may have perceived a certain culture. Whether it be Mexico, Africa, Europe, Asia or Pakistan. Did I have a single story of what I thought about the country and its people? I came to the conclusion I did, based on what I was taught in school, or what I saw on TV. Although, at my age there were mostly cowboy and Indian shows so I had a single story about my own country.

Chimamanda also spoke of how single stories create stereotypes. She says, “not that stereotypes are not true, but they are incomplete, making one story the only story.” She says she “feels it is impossible to engage with a place or person without engaging in all the stories of that place and that person. The consequence of a single story is it robs people of dignity. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.” She continues to say, “when we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about a single place, we regain a kind of paradise.”

story

Shall we all go see what the story is today?

Right now, America has a single story covering our land; and, depending on who you talk to is what story you will get. All whites are racists, all police are corrupt, all looters are criminals, all blacks want black supremacy, this whole country is going mad. Listen to the people around you and you will hear the single story they believe.

If we all stop for a minute, and look around us, we will see there is not a single story. We are robbing ourselves dignity as Chimamanda points out. We are not allowing ourselves to heal and recognize the stories that have brought us together, instead there is focus on the differences of cultures within our one culture. There is bad in every story, but the bad is not the entire story.   We should be careful to recognize one story as the only story.

As I continued to think over my idea of cultures and single stories I recognized how I have not held onto the idea of a culture that I had as a child.  I grew, I learned, I observed and I realized there are much more to this world, each country, that I can ever possibly understand.  I may have a first impression of a person, but I can easily change that instinct when I get to know them and realize how off I was.  Learning about a country is like that.  Watching countries change, evolve, sometimes backwards, sometimes forwards has showed me we are all the same inside.  We all want to be happy, healthy, and prosper.  I have learned and continue to learn about cultures and diversity and acceptance.

acceptance

Perspective.

If you haven’t heard Chimamanda’s TEDTalk I recommend it. I know you will enjoy it as much as I did. She speaks of America as having more than one story. I do agree America has many stories due to our diversity, but it is within those stories that creates single stories that is dividing our country right now. It’s a war against single stories.

What can you do this week to reject the single story you hear?

OFF THE BEATEN PATH – COMPASSION

Many of you who follow me are from the US. Some of you are not, but you are likely aware of what the US has been facing as a nation. There is no country who wasn’t built on the backs of others. But America is the land of the free. We have built our nation to be one of unity, equality, and freedom for all. Except, the slaves – black people. And the Native Americans. Those two groups had to wait for a long time to earn their unity, equality, and freedoms.  And many question if they even have it today.

I have been struggling with understanding the hate directed towards myself, a white person, who comes from a diverse background. I turn white in winter and dark in summer. I don’t have a heart full of hate and racism, or pride because of my white skin. I have envied skin tones of many people of differing races. It is difficult to hear I am a white supremacist because I have white privilege.

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Like many white people those words caused the offensive hairs on my back to rise. I am being told I should be ashamed of my white skin. I should be ashamed of the privilege I have because of how I got it.  It’s hard for black people to recognize I was born white. I did not choose my white skin, just as they did not choose their black skin. But, as a white person, I can do something about it.  I have been hearing I should stand up against the institution created by whites allowing me my privilege.  And if I don’t, I am a supremist.

Besides not being profiled like a black person is in society, the institution has not helped me.  I have not received any special privileges to buy a home, go to college, or own a business.  To group all whites together as supporters of privilege is the same as grouping all blacks together as thugs. Are there bad whites in this world, heck yeah! Are there bad blacks in this world, heck yeah! And, Satan uses these bad souls to divide and conquer. Instead of searching the hearts and souls of people, especially friends, we choose to bundle each other in packages.  Hurtful words are chosen that make it hard to find our unity.

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I feel there have been huge strides towards equality. There are increasing numbers of black people in positions of power, leadership, and owners of businesses. No one “gave” them that status. They earned it with hard work and the dedication to be successful. Just as many white people did the same thing.  There is a huge gap in various parts of our country where deep seeded prejudges – on both sides – is still very prevalent. Those areas of America are not the majority of America. Those areas are a hurricane of  discrimination and hate coming from all sides that leaves destruction in it’s continual spinning of hate.

compassion

We, as Americans, need to look at society as a whole and identify the love and support vs the hate and rejection. If we continue to identify our struggles by “them vs us” we will never find unison. There will always be division. If our eyes are closed to the people who are different colored skin choosing to live in love and create a space that is nurturing to all then we are rejecting their love and support. We can’t tell another group how to feel, how to support, by using hateful words and memes. We can’t tell a group because they don’t speak up they are not in support. We all have gifts and strengths, and we should be allowed to use them to our abilities and not be judged harshly because we don’t meet someone else’s expectations.

So, compassion.

It’s hard to see people acting with compassion when they don’t meet our expectations. And yet, compassion is the first step to brining change to a world of sufferings. If we don’t allow a group who is struggling to understand without the first step of having compassion – the sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others – without tearing them down, then we can’t expect them to want to take the next step toward being part of the change.

Give each other the same amount of compassion, respect, so we can learn from each other. Speak with love and kindness, because you catch more bees with honey. If you are not catching the bees with honey, they are probably not a bee. My unintelligent way of saying, there will be people – both sides – who will never be open minded. Let’s not confuse everyone as such. Let’s be open, kind, allowing safe conversation, people to be honest so they can share their hearts without concerns of hate being returned because “they don’t get it”.  Black people should know this very well.  Their voice has been suppressed for a long time.  Taking power of white people who voice their confusion by calling them ignorant and supremacist is not going to make white people seek answers.  Many white people don’t get it, because they have not received any special privileges from the institution blacks want us to stand up against.  Maybe together….as a human race…we stand up against the institution.

compassion

I am not one who is pushed over easily anymore.  I lived a life of pleasing everyone and saying what I felt people needed to hear.  I try to be informed.  Learn, from all sides.  I have black people tell me I am a supremist because of my white privilege, and I have white people tell me I am brain washed because I believe there is white privilege.  What neither side sees, is that is not compassion.

That only shows indifference.  Suppression.  If I am not with you, I am against you.  But, the thing is, maybe I am not for you because I believe in equality.  I believe in learning about the hurts black people face, and how I am privileged, and where I can find my voice to fight against a system that has suppressed blacks and minorities for too long.  I do believe there is forward movement.  I won’t say there isn’t, no matter how many of my black friends disagree.  Just like I won’t ignore my privilege as a white person no matter how many of my white friends disagree.

Compassion.  My heart is heavy with the pains I see in my country.  I have shed tears.  I am white.  I should have no reason for tears, but I do.  I am a daughter of God.  I am filtering through the emotions of many, and trying to learn to give it all to God.  Soften my heart, God.  Show me my voice.  Help me understand.  Help others understand.

compassion

This is a long post.  But before I go, I saw a FB live going around on my feed.  I loved it.  I am choosing to respond to the anger with love.  And, this post is the best example I can think of.  I wish I could share it with you, but I haven’t learned how to do that on my blog yet.  Haa, rookie!  Here is what captured my heart.  The post started with the 4th paragraph, but I feel all of Romans 12 should be shared.  She also refered to Psalms 82.

Romans 12

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.  If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, the serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is fiving, then give generously, if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.

Do not repay evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written” “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary:

“if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

I choose to start with compassion…for all my friends of all races.  From there, we can find our way.  I trust in God to lead us.

All my love!!

 

Off the beaten path is a weekly feature where I discus a topic that enlightens, motivates, and allows us to process topics that relate to mental and virtuous strength.  Join me every Tuesday off the beaten path and allow yourself to reflect your personal unexplored journey among pines.