Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Managing Stereotypes: The Danger of a Single Story




[caption id="attachment_467" align="aligncenter" width="357" caption="Misquided presumptions and stereotypes"]Misquided presumptions and stereotypes[/caption]

With every passing day, we get to meet new people. Hopefully, we learn new things too.

Lately, I've had a chance to make new friends, people that I believe will leave some mark on the pages of my life. And some of the marks will be indelible, for that is the way it is sometimes.

Jonathan Haidt on Objectivity

In March this year, I wrote about Jonathan Haidt's Happiness Hypothesis, which I learnt about after watching him on TED where he shared invaluable insights on moral psychology. He had the following to say about objectivity:
“If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.
The struggle between “for” and “against” is the mind’s worst disease.”
- Sent-ts’an

Chapter 8 of The Happiness Hypothesis dwells on the felicity of virtue. You can download this chapter free on the book's web site.

The Danger of a Single Story

A few weeks ago, I downloaded and watched Chimamanda Adichie's TED Talk about bigotry and stereotypes. Aptly titled 'The Danger of a Single Story', this thought-provoking talk highlights the myopia that drives bigots and informs stereotypes.

Following is the video:

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

Objectivity rocks!

Chimamanda's last words in her talk are a challenge that I in turn pass along to you. Ponder the following words:
"When we reject the single story, when we realize that there was never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise."

Let us purpose to see others through open-minded, objective eyes. Only then can we see them for who and what they truly are. Only then do we get to see the bigger picture... the bigger picture that is invariably beautiful.

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