On “on-the-other-handed-ness”

“Other-handed-ness”, as in “on the one hand ‘this’, and on the other hand ‘that’”,
in a world where ’this’ and ‘that’ co-exist, but are often cast as opposites,
“other-handed-ness”, as in ‘on the one hand this is awful’,
while ‘on the other hand that is awe-full’,
where the two can co-exist, along with so many other truths about us.
In a world where many behave as if
when you have ‘this’ you cannot possibly have ‘that’,
with many unable to have/believe/respect or entertain another person’s ‘that’
with many unable to see both
arguing as if they have only one hand,
claiming the other hasn’t a leg on which to stand;
one-armed bandits

How much more productive it might be if we could foster spaces
in which we all have two hands
and practise ‘other-handed-ness’
Respecting both ‘this’ and ‘that’,
helping the other understand the difference;
how one or the other might be more or less appropriate for the situation at hand;
helping each other accept the benefits and hazards of what is in either hand
On the one hand ‘this’ and the other hand ‘that’.

I recall the many times I sat at a table, a metaphoric “round table”,
having been asked to mediate between two otherwise reasonable people
who had become locked in a joust over whose might be the truth.
Colleagues who had become antagonists
because one believed his version of the situation was as much the truth of the matter
as his colleague believed his was the only one feasible.
Meanwhile I could see the table at which we were seated
as a table, a space, strewn with so many “this’s” and “that’s”,
while each of the others could only see the “this” or the “that” in the one hand they held out;
held out like a flag announcing “this is how the world is”
one armed, flag waving, bandits.

“Other-handed-ness” might have allowed them to achieve
understanding, resolution, collaboration,
sooner and more creatively,
and to do so without the shards of debris and shrapnel
that litter so many of these jousting spaces
and impact so many of their participants;
people who then develop strategies to survive subsequent encounters,
anticipating conflict, wearing armour, waving their flags and wielding weapons as their norm;
none of which would be necessary
if through ‘other-handed-ness’ they could come to each such space,
ready to listen, do so, and learn all about what is ‘on the other hand’.

On the one hand, this is what I think, on the other hand you may think differently.

Let’s explore.

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