TED's 31 days of Ideas - Day 16: Each of us is astonishing and worth looking at

Each of us is astonishing and worth looking at

By iO Tillett Wright

Over and over during 2016 -- capped by the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency -- we've shown how easy it is, and how seductive, to reduce people to a single identity. We flatten them into a caricature, we prepare to strip them of their humanity, and we ready ourselves to be disburdened of our conscientious self-control. It's a quick leap from there to slapping an expectation on an entire race to suggesting we put "them all" on buses and ship them out of our field of view. As long as they are out of sight, they are out of mind, and as long as they are out of mind, we are free to tell ourselves that they are subhuman creatures so we can justify what is effectively the McFlurry of emotions.

But while the world seems to be encouraging us to divide and simplify, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in her brilliant talk, "The danger of a single story," cuts to the bone that lies at the center of our current surreal political pork chop; we must humanize the "other." Chimamanda asks us to reconsider, to address the multiplicity and contradictions that make each and every one of us astonishing and worth looking at. By allowing our fellow humans to have many stories at the same time, we make room for the true nature of our species.

Chimamanda calls on us all, even seemingly free-thinking liberal people, to address the divisive tendencies we carry and to ask ourselves: Are we going to create a world of staunch, false binaries, silos of simple summary? Or are we going to allow for the nuance and contradiction that makes human existence worth celebrating?