I recall when I was in elementary school, way back in the twentieth century, one of my teachers performed an experiment. You know the one where the facilitator tells one person something and tells them to pass it on to the next person. After the facts have been passed on to every member of the group the factual representation of what was initially told has no resemblance to how it started. This experiment brings to question the accuracy of testimony that’s offered in a few settings, for example courts of law where people’s lively hood, or worse life might hang in the balance. That’s why it’s important that more than one version of what is offered is important, and that some attempt at uncovering corroborating facts is done, too.
The famous Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a TED Talk some thirteen years ago titled The Danger of a Single Story (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story | TED – YouTube) that highlighted how important it is to seek a different perspective by listening to more than one story. In her talk, Adichie tells of her experience as a young reader of Western stories and how these stories influenced the development of her view of the world. Of course, these stories had little to no relevance to the environment into which she was born. Being a young Nigerian, reading about snow and apples was interesting, but there was no snow and apples in Nigeria.
Stories are what we use to entertain, pass down traditions, influence others, and paint a picture of who we are. Stories can be good, bad, truthful or impregnated with more misrepresentations than anyone can shake a stick at. What matters is how they are structured and presented to achieve their purpose.
At seventy-two years old, I’m finding myself reexamining many of the stories I’ve been told in my life. There are many stories, for example, that have been the building blocks of my faith, which I now examine for fault lines. Think about this: How can Jesus, born in what we now call the Middle East, near Africa be Blonde and Blue-eyed? If one has some understanding of history, there would be a burning curiosity to see if there’s another story. This effort wouldn’t in anyway have to question the existence of the historical Jesus. It would however open a line of query as to why he’s been presented in the image he has for centuries.
There’s a move on the part of far-right politicians in the United States to prevent exploration of other stories in our public school system and public libraries. Educators and ordinary people have begun to question the versions of stories that have been told by the hunter for generations. Progressive-minded folks are saying that it’s time for the lion to tell its version of what’s transpired in history. Where this contention will end up, I’m not certain; however, I’m convinced that diversity of stories can result in greater understanding and acceptance for all who sit at the gate and share their experience.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.
Other blogs I’ve posted about storytelling:
There’s honor at the feet of elders – oldblessedwordpresscom
It has always been the role of the established, to control the narrative. Be it our belief, or our welfare. The more we explore and equate truth with thought, I think we all would be better off. You speak of your thoughts of Jesus blond & blue eyes, in the middle east, bordering Africa. Well, I was ten years old, my first year of baptism, during our weekly revival studies. we had to start from the beginning, book one of Moses. For the life of me, that story of four people, did not set right with me. Even to this day. I guess the realization of it all, the more you make your thoughts (beliefs) into your own identity, creates an issue with the established order. Live To Live!