By Adriana Adarve – Owner of Adarve Translations
Several weeks ago my friend and coach, Glenn Geffcken, suggested that I watch the TED video, The Danger of a Single Story. I did, and found it to be amusing, profound, very touching and an eye opener at the same time. It has changed my life in many different ways.
I have always been upset by the way some people look at my origins and cultural values, as well as those of many other people who come from many different places on this planet. I have always felt that it was done in a kind of twisted, unrelated way to the rest of us. At the same time, there had always been this nagging feeling within that used to tell me that somehow all these people were wrong because they only “saw” once side of the story, the part they thought they “knew” pretty well because of where they had gotten their facts, or because that is what the media always shows. In fact, their knowledge of what they took as the “true part of the story” has always been skewed and heavily biased.
After watching the Danger of a Single Story video, I realized that I was not wrong in the conclusions I had made about people only knowing part of other people’s stories. I realized as well that, like it or not, I also had to include myself in that group of people who get only one side of the story and become biased by it. Then I had to acknowledge that—again, like it or not—this group of people is actually the great majority of human beings populating the planet.
Most of us only get one side of the story and accept it as the universal truth about another person, people in general, or the many other groups and societies that differ from us. We all forget then that by only getting one side of the story, we are discarding the multi-sided cultural treasures that the whole story would in reality provide us with.
These multi-sided cultural treasures come from the different life experiences and distinct situations that mold who we are and how we react to things. Unfortunately, most of us want to apply what is individually true in our lives and environments to the rest of humanity, or more closely, to what we call our communities. We make assumptions and presumptions of how societal things should be, and when these assumptions and presumptions cannot be applied or are “rejected” by those wanting to become part of our so-called communities, we start labeling them and setting them apart in many indiscriminate ways.
In truth, societies are in constant movement, in constant change. But, for this change to finally start happening in a healthy way—a way that will allow for the bounty and elegance each human being has to offer—it would be ideal if we could all leave our assumptions and presumptions aside and concentrate on getting the whole story, the two-sided or the multi-sided story of the people we are interacting with and the treasures we all have to offer one another.
Just to mention one single example in my line of work, I believe it would be a great step forward if we all stopped thinking about the negative reasons any given person living within our community “has for not making the effort to speak our language.” We tend to see this as a lack of effort or desire on this person’s part to become integrated to us and our way of living. Then I think, what would happen if we found the way to communicate with this person and really ask him or her what the real reason is for him or her not to speak our language? What if we set aside our preconceived side of the story and actually got to know the other sides of it?
What would happen if we all decided to set aside our inclination for the One Side Story and opened ourselves to the multicultural treasures that multi-sided stories bring with them?
I honestly believe humanity would be happier, richer and infinitely better balanced.
What do you think?
Adriana Adarve, Asheville, NC
About the Author: Adriana Adarve is the owner of Adarve Translations and is fluent in three languages (English, Spanish & French), as well as pluri-cultural, multi-cultural, plurilingual and multilingual.