Story. Situation. Argument. Error. Whatever the case may be, there is always more than one side to a story. Or is there?
Take the case of Tyrone W. Miles. He was sentenced to 25 years for attempting to cash a bad check at a California convenience store. I read about the story in the Saturday/Sunday edition of The Wall Street Journal, but a blog version tells the tale more quickly. His attorney did not, apparently, know that his latest arrest aimed a direct hit at him for punishment under the three strikes rule operating in California.
Miles committed a crime, and he was punished for it. In fact, Miles committed three crimes, and as punishable by law, he must do the time. Period.
This could be the end of Miles’ story, but is it?
The history of his criminal record goes back to when he acted as a “lookout” for two robberies. He did not actually rob anyone, nor did he physically harm anyone. Despite U.S. military service, he became a drug addict, which led him to pass bad checks due to “deteriorating finances,” according to the WSJ.
Some might look at the case of Tyrone Miles and believe that since he did not commit a heinous offense, he should not be prosecuted under the three-strikes rule, or that if he were to be prosecuted, the fact that his lawyer did not seem aware of the impending crisis of his third strike, means he should serve a commuted sentence rather than 25 years. In fact, that is exactly what the Stanford Law School’s Three Strikes project is intending to argue for him.
I may have lost some of y’all, who are wondering what in the world this guy has to do with your life. I maintain he has everything to do with it.
When we are maligned in some way, or when we malign another, it is so easy to see our own side of things; the reason or reasons we did or said this or that. It is downright impossible, it seems, to see the side (or sides) of another’s action or statement towards us. In the heat of our anger and hurt, all we want is vengeance. We do not want to see the other angles of the situation.
And yet, if we do take a look at how things play out for others, we run the risk of being surprised and even ashamed at what we have done to them. How we have made them feel. This is another reason that we don’t want to consider the many sides to a story.
We can breeze through life, refusing to see our own actions in the light of truth, but in doing so, we run an even greater risk: the risk of being treated that way ourselves. That’s going to happen anyway, though, isn’t it? You bet. But it is better to be the one who thoughtfully considers all sides of the story, and moves past our hurts. The only way to move past them is to realize that we may have played a role in them, or that there are extenuating circumstances that caused someone to hurt us. And one thing we must never forget: And there but by the grace of God, go I.