The Single Story Myth

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March 28, 2021- Chimamanda Ngosi Adichie, a Nigerian writer, poses some interesting points in a talk she gave on the TED Network. The notion that so many form their opinions of others, both individuals and groups, based on a single thread of information, bears careful thought. Ms. Adichie gives the examples of 1. How many people in North America refer to Africa as a country, and have the image of half-clad, uneducated people, who are uniformly engaged in endless civil wars. 2. How many Africans imagine Americans to be uniformly living lives of prosperity.

While there is some truth to a single story, as Ms. Adichie points out, it is seldom, if ever, the ONLY story about a person, group, nation, or continent. Baha’u’llah teaches us, and science corroborates, that every created thing, from an atom or molecule to the largest animal and tallest tree, is unique from every other of its kind. We recognize that no two grains of sand, or no two snowflakes, are alike. How much more is each strand of DNA, each virus, amoeba, frog, blue jay, spotted hyena, hyacinth, orca, or Douglas fir different from every other of its kind.

Further, how complex is each created thing, within itself! Every human being, therefore, is more than the sum of his/her parts. We each have more than one story, which is one reason why individuals who try to judge one another, always fall short in their estimation. I am not the same person who drove others to distraction, in times past, or even not so many years ago. Neither are you. While one has to make amends for transgressions and missteps, these ought not confine the person who has committed them. This goes double for groups of people.

Let us, therefore, give pause to the preservation of prejudices, either towards individuals or towards groups. Let us learn as many of each others’ stories as we can.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 67: Leave of Senses

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August 6, 2020-

I saw a blurb, this morning, for a TED talk, of indeterminate date, in which the speaker purports to tell us all that we should get a grip, with regard to society’s ban on pedophilia.

There is a disturbing amount of that sort of insanity going around, right now, so I doubt it was satire-and NPR isn’t exactly world famous for such folderol, anyway.

This evening, someone posted about their experience with their two-year-old being given an innocent-looking Troll Doll. When the parents looked the doll over, as responsible parents tend to do, they found a button between the doll’s legs. Yes, it made disturbing, adult-type noises, when pushed. The toymaker has recalled the device.

I’ve been called paranoid and puritanical, for making a big deal about the alleged sex trafficking of children. So be it. As much as I believe in adults making their own choices, behind closed doors (and getting flack for that, as well), children CANNOT tolerate, physically or emotionally, serving as playthings for adults-or for pubescent teens, for that matter. Children (and teens) should not be part of such activities.

We have reached the point in our society’s decline, when this sort of decadence is again considered chic, as it was among certain elements of society, in Victorian times. It is anything but, and I look forward to those participating in, or fostering, child sex trafficking to be brought to swift justice. It won’t matter to me how prominent, or well-regarded, the person is: Wrong is wrong.

Vulnerability and Soothing Blend

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May 11, 2019-

I just finished watching a TED Talk on “Shame”. This came about four hours after someone, with whom I was working as a volunteer, mildly upbraided me for not working at a paying job.  (This person is not working at a paying job, either.)

I am ever willing to stand outside and be vulnerable to criticism, knowing that a) I can’t live with myself, if I am not open and b) The critic is usually seeing, in  me, those things he or she dislikes about self.   That doesn’t mean the criticism never stings- and there are two people who I have banned from my life, in perpetuity, for barrages of that I consider unwarranted attacks. It does mean that those whom I trust, and who do not have hidden agendas, are to speak freely.

The presenter of the above-mentioned video spoke of shame as nearly always a prime impediment to a person being the true self.  Shame is imposed from within, though not always sans influence or instigation from someone else.  When I was younger, it was fairly easy, even for well-meaning people, to wreck my self-confidence and set in motion even false shame.

Since the days when my late wife was in my primary care, I have learned that there are unscrupulous people who will take to questioning even the most basic decisions a person can make- usually with a view towards financial benefit or other forms of power and control over the person they are questioning.  I have learned that there are those who will attack someone who is defending victims of crimes, almost always as a means of gaslighting or obfuscation.  Both of the people I mentioned above are gaslighters, and they came close to doing a good job of making me feel shamed.

There was just one difference, from the days of my youth:  Time, and hard lessons, have taught me the difference between acknowledging wrongdoing and buying into the script of a narcissist or tyrant.   So now, in an intervening period between jobs, I am not ashamed of not presently earning an income, outside of what I have already set aside for myself.  That situation will change- on my terms, not those of the retired critic.

I am not afraid to be vulnerable, or to experience life’s aches and pains.  The physical variety of these is relieved by what is called Soothing Blend (an oil-based ointment).  The spiritual variety is relieved by prayer, meditation and positive action.