The theme of John Edgar Wideman's "Our Time" is that things are not always what they seem. Wideman shows in his essay that there are multiple sides to every story and that one person can not fully understand the actions of another without being in that person's shoes.
Using the voices of himself, his brother Robby and his mother, John Edgar Wideman shows the struggles that each individual had to endure. He also shows how each person's hardships helped shape who they became and influenced their future actions. For example, Wideman displays through his brother's voice the tragic events and turning points in his brother's life that drove his brother to later commit murder.
Wideman not only tells of the events that happened, but he also describes the instances that drove the people to their actions, and he explains why those people felt that their actions were justified. Wideman's essay helps to show the reasons and feelings behind why people do what they do, and he shows readers that they cannot judge a person for their actions without first understanding the inciting incidents that influenced that person's actions.
His overall theme is that one person cannot see the entire driving force behind the action, the breaking point of the individual or the years of hurt and anger that pushed that person to do something horrible.