Two sides to every story

By Melissa Martin

There’s an old saying, “There’s two sides to every story and the truth is somewhere in the middle.”

Individuals perceive events differently. For example, if 3 people witness a fender-bender accident with 3 cars, they’ll have 3 stories. First witness says, “I saw the brown car hit the silver car that swerved and the black truck plowed into the brown car.” Second witness says, “I saw the black truck speeding and the driver missed the sliver car and ran into the brown car.” Third witness says, “The silver car stalled and the other cars crashed into it.”

On television crime court shows, the first side is presented and we think the defendant must be guilty. But when the other side is presented we’re not so sure of guilt.

And of course, there are two sides to the story for a therapist that conducts marriage counseling. Each spouse tells their own version of truth while the other spouse denies it. “You’re lying! That’s not what happened.”

Even when you’re listening to your child tell you about the classmate at school who wouldn’t share, called her a nasty name, and hurt her feelings—there’s another side to the story. So be aware momma bear.

I’m not talking about right or wrong or truth or lies when it comes to war crimes, genocide, human rights issues, domestic violence, child and animal abuse, medical or legal malpractice. Of course, predators and perpetrators will have their own warped side of the story or will lie to avoid consequences. “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented,” asserted Elie Wiesel.

Each religious group interprets their “book of life” based on history, artifacts, studies, doctrine, tradition, and beliefs. Each spiritual cult proclaims their way is the true way.

Perception becomes our reality. We think the other person is lying when he/she is telling his/her own version of the story. An African proverb says, “Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter.”

Many of us grow up in the black and white zone before we learn about the gray zone. So we often choose sides. Ah, wisdom often accompanies ageing. And we realize that each individual has his/her own perception of life’s daily stories.

But, can we give grace to those of opposing viewpoints while standing for our beliefs? Can we show mercy to those do disagree with our theology? Can we practice peace during times of turmoil? Jesus, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela and their followers did just that.

Democrats and republicans; liberals and conservatives; left-wingers and right-wingers. Each party and person packs political punches and pokes, prods, jabs and stabs with their own “truth.”

When members of city councils, school boards, and governing bodies bicker and bellow like kids on the playground—perspective exits the room. Respectful debate and civil disagreeing must be part of communication and problem-solving. But when the emotional brain highjacks the logical brain, rigid thinking and unbending beliefs pop up.

Why can’t we consider perspectives and perceptions of others and practice peaceful opinions? Take a step back and ponder on perspectives. Revisit the First Amendment. It’s possible to speak passionately about our beliefs, values, and morals while understanding the perspective of others.

“There’s two sides to every story and the truth is somewhere in the middle.”

Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County. Contact her at [email protected]

By Melissa Martin