In any disagreement, there’s always n + 2 versions, n being the number of people involved. The +1 part is the story that a person not involved would come up with based on the story versions. The other +1 is the real story – which no one can retell.

Whoever gets to visit home gets to be the mediator. This May, it’s me. It’s not that big of a disagreement actually. More like a clash of dominant personalities. In any household, there should only be one dominant personality. Otherwise, it’s bound to be a noisy or tensed existence. None that’d be suitable for a relaxing break from work – which I was in, by the way. That’s the ideal setting. That, being ideal, makes it nonexistent, especially in this household. So we manage to lay low on the tension and find humor in the different versions of the story.

It amuses me how the same event can be perceived, interpreted, and retold in a lot of ways. Certain parts are omitted or distorted while other parts are added. Listening to these stories, I’m never in search for what really transpired. My role would be to listen. Just listen. And that seemed to be enough. Even if you do attempt to tell them how they were wrong at with some hurtful lines uttered or with the disrespectful act, they won’t really take it in. They don’t need you to tell them they’ve done something wrong. They just want an audience. I can be that. In a few days, I’ll forget it anyway.

It’s just one of the things that makes family family.

Taking sides in the disagreement is… obsolete? That’s what we see in movies and telenovelas and in the evening news. What I learned is that taking sides just increases the number of people involved. It never solves anything.

What is needed is to listen for the purpose of at least getting the story nearest to the real version. We listen not to take sides but to understand what made all the involved act in that particular way – and how to avoid it in the future. All these, only the uninvolved can do.


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