By Gilamro Keban

NEWSDAILYNIGERIA: For every narrative or conflicting issue, there are two sides to it. But often times, human beings tend to believe one side and make assumptions or conclusions. We are so satisfied with a single narrative.

We are all guilty at one time or the other of one sided story. The adage that says ‘’there are two or many sides of the coin’’ is neglected.

Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who used the title in 2009, believes that ‘’stories matter, but that all too often in our lives we operate from the perspective of hearing and knowing a single story — about a person, a situation, or perhaps a conflict. And that we operate from the perspective of the single story unconsciously. The risk of the single story, the one perspective, is that it can lead us to default assumptions, conclusions and decisions that may be incomplete, and may lead to misunderstanding.”

As Adichie says, single stories can have significant negative impact. They can rob people of their dignity. Naturally, people love to present facts or the side of the story that would support their sentiment and or argument.

In Nigeria, some citizens, tribes and ethnic groups suffer stereotype arising from a single story portrait by the media. Their right to reply is denied because they do not have access to the media. This has continually put them in bad light.

One can only imagine how this problem has robbed us families, societies and nations like ours of the much needed unity and peace to make progress.

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Management staff at work places are also guilty of this. Every manager is expected to have the ‘art of listening skills’. Sometimes, they listen to complaints of those they love without giving the same opportunity and time frame to those being reported. The end result of this is that, the work place becomes toxic. Disharmony among member of staff is created.

In any situation, who tells the story, how and when, can impact situations greatly. The way we make sense of situations leads to narratives that may be harmful if left unexamined. Power make some to define individuals and situations from a particular lens.

Several times, we have maligned and defamed others with our single stories without given them fair hearing. Religious, political and ethnic sentiments may not be unconnected to this.

There are times we make judgment(s) based on our biased and prejudiced minds.

Watchman Nee puts it this way: “we speak according to our personal preference. We purposely keep back half of the matter; not the whole fact. Many people do not speak according to what is true but according to their likes and dislikes.” Our sentiments quickly set in, giving room for biases whenever we have the opportunity to narrate a story about a conflict.

The tendency to speak evil against those whom we dislike is evident in our choice of words. In an attempt to give perspective, we magnify the fault of others and play down ours. We give half baked truth. We add fuel to fire – we fan the flames. Our religious and ethnic biases are not helping matters too. Most often, the truth is buried because of our political, religious and political affiliations.

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At family level, parents do make hasty judgment against a child from perspective of the single story; only to realize later that they were deceived. In settling disagreement between couples, some have taken sides. How many times have we concluded on a matter but later on, understood that our perspective and opinion on such a matter were wrong? Separating fact from opinion is rare today.

Where we have the rare privilege to listen to all sides, is the courts and the palace of traditional rulers. Hardly can issues be presented to them and hasty decision is taken. All sides are given the chance to say what they know about the issue in contention. Traditional rulers such as the Chiefs and Emirs are people of wisdom. Consultations are made before a judgment is passed. Religious leaders and leaders of thought also belong to this class.

By giving space to hear multiple stories, we can help to promote fair hearing and justice in the society and in any nation.

So, when next a single story is presented to you, look for the other version. We need to pay attention to all sides of the story. This is very important.

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