Friday, 27 July 2012

There are always two sides to every story

I make sense of the world through stories and relationships, I receive and share a lot of information, hopefully most of it is true and accurate but some of it slightly exaggerated, some of it repeated in confidence, some of it just said to fill the silence, get a laugh, gain approval or showcase inside knowledge.  Stories, words, tales, yarns, accusations, insinuations and anecdotes, all freely told, shared, passed on all day, all over the world.  What harm can it do?

I was listening to the wonderful Etta James the other day and the words from her song Two Sides made me stop, listen and think.  The lyrics were:

Things aren't always like they seem to be
So take this tip from experienced me
There are always two sides
To every story, yeah
But two wrongs, two wrongs can't make a right
Oh, and two mistakes will only bring you heartache
And you both will end up losing the fight

How often do I only hear one side of a story but accept it as the only true and correct version of events?

We hear a story or observe a situation and with our own limited knowledge, previous experience, misplaced trust and pre-conceived ideas and beliefs we form a judgement.  The problem being there is probably at least one other side to this story that we have not heard or considered and it may be the polar opposite of what we think is correct. 

Aesop (c. 620-564 BC) was a story teller and he is quoted as saying “Every truth has two sides; it is as well to look at both, before we commit ourselves to either”.  Take for example if you are sitting on a plane and your flight has been delayed because one passenger cannot be located.  After a lengthy delay he boards, without knowing the circumstance would you be furious at him for inconveniencing you?  What if he was at the hospital with his terminally ill child, or what if he had passed a car accident on the way to the airport and stopped to help the injured or what if he had been drinking at the bar with mates and didn’t give a toss about everybody else on the plane waiting?  How would you respond without knowing all the facts?

 It is not possible to know all the details of every situation; we cannot research every bit of information to determine its absolute accuracy.  Some things we simply know to be the truth, which we can cling to and build on, most other things we will probably never know the whole truth.  Next time I am tempted to jump to a conclusion I will think twice about whether there might be another side to the story.  Before I share information I will consider whether it is accurate, relevant and necessary or is it actually rumour and gossip?  Just as Etta advises I will stop and consider there always two sides to every story.

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