Five people meet at a local pub to spin some yarns, have a few laughs, and enjoy some camaraderie. A sixth person enters the pub with a bloodied bite mark on his arm.

Person 1: “Where’d you get that bite, Bluey?!”

Bluey: “Stray dog! Came outta nowhere ‘n’ bit my hand for no reason… mongrel oughta be put down!”

Person 1: “Yeah, I think I know the dog you mean… Alsatian, right?!”

Bluey: “Yeah. I’ve called the pound to come get ‘im.”

Person 1: “He’s definitely a stray… seen it wandering the street lookin’ for food on more’n one occasion.”

Person 2: “Doesn’t the dog belong to old Marg down the road? I’ve seen it in Marg’s yard a lot… sometimes with Marg, sometimes with her grandkid.”

Person 3: “Old Marg died about a month ago. Her grandkid told me the dog was his when I went walking by the property one evening. Kid was beating the living tar out of the poor thing with a stick. I phoned the RSPCA to let them know. Woulda taken the dog home myself if it hadn’t’ve run off.”

Person 4: “Parents of the kid should be ashamed of themselves. Obviously didn’t teach the kid how to treat animals right.”

Person 5: “If old Marg is dead, that means the kid’s now an orphan. His parents died in a car accident some time back. Marg was the kid’s only guardian. Who’s looking after the kid? And who’s treating the dog with any kindness?”

*     *

Four of the above perspectives were partially correct, but only the fifth perspective came anywhere near the full story. 

If the story had‘ve concluded at person and perspective one, the dog would simply have remained a bastard in everyone’s eyes—tried, judged and put down. 

If the story had’ve concluded at person and perspective two, the dog would have been associated with a family of sorts, which would have changed the status of the dog from ‘social pest’ to ‘domesticated pet,’ but people still likely would’ve remained angry at the dog’s aggression—the dog would still be tried, judged, and put down. 

As the perspective of the dog’s behaviour expands via person three, a personal link to who owned or owns the dog and why the dog is so mean, is provided. In this added perspective, the dog’s aggressive behaviour is further understood. People begin to feel sorry for the dog and the owner of the dog is vilified.

Through the eyes of person four’s perspective, the boy is completely vilified and the dog becomes less of a focus than the boy. 

The perspective of person five removes ALL vilification from the boy AND the dog because person five provides a major missing piece of the puzzle.  

*    *

When someone offers another person a piece of information, it is always going to be from their own perspective. Perspective is made up of snapshots of information the mind has taken in, sequenced together, and spat out through presumptive sense-making. 

Is it any wonder there is always more than one side to a story?

Photo by redcharlie on Unsplash