The myth of two-sided stories
“Every story has far more than just two ‘sides,’ and reducing it to two creates real problems.” — @theharmonyguy
Novelist Chimamanda Adichie profoundly explains this concept in her TED talk on the danger of a single story. (It’s absolutely worth 19 minutes!)
Controversial issues, much less people, cannot be reduced to one or even two “stories” or sides. We’re all beautifully complex and we live in a world of nuanced challenges.
Of course, it’s easier to be dogmatic and boast our “rightness” when we reduce a topic to a black and white choice (e.g. pro-life vs pro-choice, environmentally friendly vs business friendly, gun control advocate vs second amendment advocate, etc.).
But this only boosts our ego, gives us a false sense of mastery of the topic, and inevitably drives those on the “other side” away.
Empathy takes a different approach.
Empathy looks beyond the obvious one or two sides to understand the nuanced aspects of the situation or person. It withholds judgment, choosing instead to ask sincere questions. It engages all parties in a meaningful dialogue.
Empathy takes time and energy to practice, but it’s far more productive than operating under the myth of two-sided stories.