Asking “what happened” is a very straight forward question. There is no ambiguity as to what you are seeking. As a result, our expectation is that we will get an accurate account of what took place or what was said or done.
Most times, this is the case when we ask the question of only one person. We walk away with their explanation in hand, thinking that what they shared was accurate. It’s convenient to do this, for we don’t have the time to think about what we heard. We accept it and move on.
Only when you begin to ask multiple individuals the same question about the same incident do you start to see that this question is not so straight forward. How could this be?
You can test this for yourself. The next time you want to know what happened around an event where more than two people were involved, ask this same question of more than one person. Surprisingly, you will get slightly different explanations of what took place and why.
While all the people you ask were present, their stories will differ. Some people are better listeners than others. One or two might not have been paying close attention when the event you are questioning took place. One person might have been an ally of the antagonist in the story so they will describe their actions in a very kind way. Someone who doesn’t care for this same antagonist will describe their actions harshly to support their own worldview of the person.
Being objective in life’s dealings is challenging for each of us. While we go about our life with great certainty, we can find if we search that life is more like riding a wave rather than walking on cement. Everything around us depends on context, ability, and our worldview or biases that we bring each day to what we see and hear.
What happened? It’s a question that requires you to ask more than one person to begin to get a fair and balanced understanding of what took place in any situation. Even then, we might not know the whole truth but asking it will keep us from being pushed to an extreme because of the unintended misinformation given by only one person when asked “what happened?”