Consequences of Listening to Only One Perspective



Everyone has believed in at least one lie which can be from a single story dedicated to one person or a group. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” shares the consequences of listening to only one perspective as she talks about the story of her life. Likewise, Elie Wiesel wrote an autobiographical novel, Night, about how he survived during the Holocaust. And finally, Aleksandr Solzenitsyn wrote an essay, “One Word of Truth Outweighs the World,” where he argues that art is the best way to reveal the truth. It’s important for people and different cultures to build narratives about their experiences because they transfer new information to others by helping individuals avoid making uninformed decisions.

Different perspectives offer various versions of the truth which often morph, and distort reality. When Adichie was talking about when she moved in with her new roommate for college, she says: “My roommate had a single story of Africa. A single story of catastrophe. In this single story there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her, in any way. No possibility of feelings more complex than pity. No possibility of a connection as human equals” (Adichie).  Adichie's college roommate had a biased opinion of her and it's Adichie's claim that if her roommate had learned more about Africa, then she wouldn't hold a limited viewpoint. Wiesel’s experience relates to Adichie’s when he says: “He spoke only of what he had seen. But people not only refused to believe his tales, they refused to listen. Some even insinuated that he only wanted their pity, that he was imagining things”(Wiesel 7). Moishe the Beadle, Wiesel’s mentor, tried to warn the people in town about the Nazi arriving to their area but the people did not care when he warned them and they started to judge him. This event relates to what Adichie went through with her roommate because the people in Night and Adichie’s roommate both made assumptions based off of misinformation rather than the truth. 

The consequences of severe situations cause people to react to their true selves disregarding the thoughts of others. As Solzhenitsyn reacts to what his opinion is, he says: “I THINK THAT WORLD LITERATURE has the power in these frightening times to help mankind see itself accurately despite what is advocated by partisans and by parties” (Solzhenitsyn). Many people hide their true identities and how they act in front of people but when there are drastic times, people will automatically reveal their true selves. The statement that Solzhenitsyn pointed out relates to the events or situations that Wiesel has been through which he states: “OUR FIRST ACT AS FREE MEN was to throw ourselves onto the provisions. That's all we thought about. No thought of revenge, or of parents. Only of bread” (Wiesel 115). This proves that people's identities are revealed after frightening times. In Wiesel’s case, being in the concentration camps and suffering with very limited food and lots of pain, mentally and physically, made him act in the way he described. It's unrealistic for people to go fight with their enemies immediately after going through these harsh times. An event like this, is Wiesel showing that people's actions in times of strive, reveal their true nature.

Literature brings people together regardless of their background, it resolves many problems, and it’s easy to share multiple opinions from different people. This idea is conveyed through Solzhenitsyn writing which says, “The simple act of an ordinary courageous man is not to take part, not to support lies! Let that come into the world and even reign over it, but not through me” (Solzhenitsyn).  If people refrain from taking part in these lies, there will be less tension and fewer disagreements. Solzhenitsyn said the best way to reveal the truth is by having everyone together and portray their opinions through literature. Adichie’s idea was depicted through the similar idea that Solzhenitsyn stated which is, “we have big dreams of building libraries and refurbishing libraries that already exist, and providing books for state schools that don't have anything in their libraries, and also of organizing lots and lots of workshops, in reading and writing, for all the people who are eager to tell our many stories” (Adichie). Adichie’s statement overlaps with Solzhenitsyn's point because they both interlace when they talk about literature. Solzhenitsyn said literature is the best way to bring people together and reveal the truth. While Adichie states that, through reading and writing, people can open up to their inner feelings and it's the best way to see other people’s opinions through art.

Throughout life, and the nonfiction novels, the different perspectives taken, change the truth of the situation which eventually changes most of the people’s point of views. These truths, or often lies dictate the character of us and those around us. The exchanges of narratives from different cultures, people, and groups can spread out multiple varieties of different perspectives, actions, and creativity that leads up to the truth.