Both Sides of the Story

The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.
We listen to reply.

Stephen R. Covey

I’ve recently been on a Phil Collins kick. Collins got his start with the band Genesis as their drummer and eventual lead vocalist. Invisible Touch is one of my favorite Genesis albums. He eventually became a solo artist, and his musical work is diverse and amazing (in my opinion). He was especially popular during my junior high and high school years, but I believe his music is still relevant 25-30 years later. (He is still touring if you want to hear some fantastic live music!)

As I was listening to the Phil Collins artist channel on Spotify this week, I heard the song for which I titled this post – Both Sides of the Story.

In the song, Collins uses story telling and song writing to remind listeners that everyone has a story:

Find yourself in the gutter in a lonely part of town
Where death waits in the darkness with a weapon to cut some stranger down
Sleeping with an empty bottle, he’s a sad and an empty hearted man
All he needs is a job, and a little respect, so he can get out while he can

We always need to hear both sides of the story
Both sides of the story

Phillip David Charles Collins (Both Sides of the Story)

I don’t think I’m alone when I say there seems to be a growing chasm between people in our country (and perhaps the world). Without getting political, you can see it in U.S. politics where view points seem so polarized, and there seems little effort on anyone’s part to get to understand why someone else would have a contrary viewpoint. We see it when it comes to perspectives on race, economy, guns, drugs, sexual identity, poverty, etc.

People have a strong viewpoint on many of these issues, and they are often not afraid to state their viewpoint – especially on social media where there is an increase in boldness and a decrease in respect. While having these strong viewpoints, people generally are unwilling to listen to the other side of the story.

When the lights are all on, the world is watching now
People looking for truth, we must not fail them now
Be sure, before we close our eyes
Don’t walk away from here
‘Til you see both sides

Phillip David Charles Collins (Both Sides of the Story)

Our news media doesn’t help from what I can find. News networks like CNN and FOXNews build stories around their viewpoints. They widen the chasm by telling only one side of the story. Despite what they proclaim, they don’t really provide a “fair and balanced” look into the “news.”

Before I let you believe this is the problem of others, let me confess that I need to do a better job getting both sides of the story. I’m quick to shutdown others who don’t share my perspective or to those who simply seem to be adding to the noise and the chasm. I need to listen to both sides of the story too!

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

James 1:19-20

Imagine a world where people listened to the other side of the story. Imagine a world where people approached things with a desire to understand. Imagine a world where disagreements were handled with respect and empathy.

Listening to the other side of the story takes time, humility, closed mouths, and open ears, hearts, and minds.

As we head into a new week, I want to challenge you to stretch yourself. Find ways to respectfully engage with others who are different than you – with people who are coming from a different perspective – with people who have another side to the story. Take time to listen. Work hard to understand. Without compromising your beliefs, find common ground and commit to keep listening and engaging to both sides of the story.

What steps can you take this week to hear the other side of the story?