Lockdown Day 61 – 26 May 2020 – A Single Story

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The danger of a single story is an excellent TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The video is embedded below.

I borrow the title of this post from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

It seems I am hearing a lot of “single stories” these days. “The virus kills.” “The virus is not more dangerous than the flu.” “More people die of diabetes each year.” “Many more people die of starvation each year” (shocking!). “The virus is infectious, it will overrun the medical infrastructure.” And so, it carries on. If you check Worldometers you can find many more single stories that you can weave into a big story.

Unfortunately, I catch myself in the single story too often for comfort.

The other day I wrote how I lost my respect for the police. Pondering my ponderings, the thought arises “there was a time that we could trust the police and they were honorable.”

That is a single story!

In Worcester, a member of my congregation once told me about his life in the police during the 80’s. When the police were called to investigate a burglary at a supermarket or liquor store, they first helped themselves and then started investigating.

When he refused to take part in this dishonesty, he was threatened that if he snitches on them, they will kill him. When one of his colleagues “officially” told him to get in on the act, or “in the next contact with burglars there might be a shooting accident,” he resigned.

This is also a single story. Now we have two stories!

I grew up in a time when we prayed for the “men on the border and the police who protect us.” Men on the border and police were heroes! We were raised to want to be a man on the border. They were tough beyond tough.

Another single story. We now have three stories.

Then I read books about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and I read things that made my hair stand on end. Atrocities that I cannot even imagine that happened in townships in the middle of the night and that the apparatchik of Apartheid just prevented us from hearing with draconian laws.

That is another single story. We have quite a few stories now.


Then I read A Human being Died that Night by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, and not only did I hear another single story, you read an amazing story about forgiveness. A life changing book that well worth reading.

And that is what happens when we do not stick to single stories! There is understanding, empathy, co-operation. Magic happens when we have multiple stories!

Thinking about the police today, let’s celebrate that we can post videos of atrocities online FREELY! In the 80’s you could go to jail for that, although we would think online is where the washing is! Let’s celebrate that the press can report about it. That it can go to court.

And let’s be aware of “The Danger of a Single Story.” Do yourself a favour and watch this video.



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