Every three years as we gear up for the ELCA National Youth Gathering, we spend a lot of time preparing for the experience. Fundraising efforts get much of the attention, but we also use our youth group time to get ready for what we will encounter.
This fall, we began talking about single stories. Single stories tell part of a story, but not the whole story, leaving out nuance and detail. To help further explain this concept, we watched a TED Talk given by Chimamanda Adichie who said it this way: "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."
After watching this video, we shared with one another examples of single stories that we have heard and believed. We talked about single stories that have been used to define us or those we know. We explored questions like "What are moments that define your view of the world?" and "How might you hear different stories?".
We wrestled with the danger of assuming a single story of people we have encountered (or will encounter) through service. We shared how we would look for more than a single story, both in our own Charlottesville community and in Houston.
As we get ready for our day of service learning in Houston, we invite you to grapple with these questions along with us. When has a single story affected your perception of someone? When has a single story you held been wrong? How are you seeking out other voices to hear different stories? Thanks for joining us on this journey.
Dear God, as people of faith we are called to move beyond charity and enter into relationships with people who are different from us, to walk alongside them in their mission, and to join them in building a better world. Guide us in our efforts to do this. Open our hearts and minds to hear the multitude of stories, not just one. In Jesus name. Amen.