How many times have you heard someone say “there are two sides to every story?”
We are taught to frame our thinking in these dualistic terms, with even our most significant and complex cultural conversations unfolding on this binary framework.
Pro-life versus pro-choice;
Right versus left;
Wall street versus main street.
These narratives serve those who seek power and influence, whose agenda is to convince and convert. They fit easily within our human tendencies toward tribalism, reductiveness, and confirmation bias. We gravitate towards them because they are fast and easy, and because paradox makes us uncomfortable.
Binary thinking works for sales pitches and politicians, but it makes inner growth and bridging differences far more difficult.
The word “nuance” means “shades of difference.” In essence, seeing beyond “black and white” forces us to see the world in far more color. It takes more time, patience, and conversation. It requires us to hold competing truths, our own or someone else’s, even when it is confusing. It means we have to get more comfortable admitting what we don’t yet know. It requires presence and conscious attention, listening and learning.
We may think in binary, but we exist as multidimensional, evolving beings who are hurtling through an equally complex, technicolor universe.
There are infinite sides to each of our individual stories.