Ten years ago today, rock star Bono delivered an amazing address at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, with President George W. Bush sitting nearby. Bono, lead singer of the … Continue reading Bono rocked the world 10 years ago with words about poverty, justice
“. . . [S]how a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over gain, and that is what they become.”
Chimamanda Adichie is a novelist from Nigeria, and her’s is the profound voice of a “TED Talk” titled“The Danger of a Single Story.” Adichie, in the video, tells the story of how she found her cultural voice, and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
We need this in America today. We are easily tempted to think we know what life is like for people who are different from ourselves simply because we know a little. Real life is not so simple
Television news contributes to this because it packages some brief aspect of reality into an even briefer report. The power of the images fools us into thinking we understand more than we do.
For instance, in my years as a journalist I reported from a number of natural disasters. You visit a destroyed area, talk to the people, and try to convey as much of the reality as possible, but it is never enough. The reality is so overwhelming that images from disasters linger in your mind decades after the disaster. People who read a single story or watch a single television story simply cannot grasp what has happened. The more people expose themselves to varied stories and perspectives, the better they will understand.
But this points to one of the biggest dangers in our American media world today. Niche media package messages for a particular audience; they want to make you feel at home so you will keep coming back. Many in that audience will be tempted to get all of their information from that one comfortable source because it reinforces their preconceptions of reality. When that happens, and it occurs on both the left and the right, ignorance can begin to grow. If you look at something from one perspective, you simply cannot understand that thing well.
Adichie’s thesis about the danger of a single story makes the point in a powerful manner. She uses stories from her life to build her case, and it is a very strong one.
“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.”
Watch the video, and it will be 19 minutes of life well spent. You either, like me, will learn something new, or you will see an old truth illustrated in a compelling manner.
A prayer: Lord, help us to better see the reality of this world and of the people with whom we share it.
(Originally posted on Facebook.)
Please pray for a famine relief team we have in Ethiopia. A video camera has been confiscated and officials are jittery after a BBC report from the refugee camps. Pray that God will give them the needed access to help relief dollars flow effectively. And pray that the camera will be returned.
When Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa in 1994, one of the first things he did was a feeding program for school children. Many opposed because of financial strains, but Mandela pushed it anyway, said Ngwela Paul Msiza during the recent “… such as these” conference in Dallas.
Msiza, of the Baptist Convention of South Africa, spoke on the topic,”Responding to Childhood Hunger, African Church Perspective.” Here are my paraphrased notes:
The church in Africa … The mainline churches have been overtaken by the pentacostal movement. … The prosperity churches are a big thing. … All privatized Christianity; its all about me, and that weakens the church’s action on social justice. … The more you speak of prosperty and about me and my good living, we are making the gospel weaker and weaker in places where it is supposed to be strong. … Christianity is growing in South Africa. … Then why are we having so many of these ills still growing. …
There are other poroblems that go alongside childhood hunger. … Funds sometimes do not reach the intended beneficiary. … Problem of corruption. …
I believe that in order for us as a church in Africa to respond effectivedly to childhood poverty. … First, the church must begin to see children as Jesus sees them. If we use the eyes of Christ, then our attitudes and motives will change. … In some churches, children are not part of the worship. Children are not to be pushed to the side. … Christ who says anyone who welcomes children welcomes Christ himself. … We do ourselves a favor when we help children. … The church must help the world to understand. We cannot let children roam the streets and pretend that all is well. …
We need to welcome children in our midst. we need to hold them in our hearts. We need to bless them. … It helps us to think about them all the time. …
Msiza spoke during a May 24-25, 2011, conference titled, “…such as these…”: An Evangelical Advocacy Response to Global Childhood Hunger. The event was held at Dallas Baptist University and sponsored by Bread for the World, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, National Association of Evangelicals, Micah Challenge, Baptist World Alliance, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, and DBU.