It’s Not All Black and White

We have a tendency to see things in binary terms – things are black or white, people or actions are good or bad, noble or ignoble, and so on.

Those are easy judgements to make when we are sitting on the outside, so to speak, judging something or someone apart from ourself.

A young friend of mine posted a poem last week titled No Room for Grey that invites us to think differently about such judgments by asking a simple question: what if we are in the equation?

Here is an excerpt of his piece:

We are all raised
To believe there is:
Good and bad,
Law and Chaos,
Black and White.
Bright, shining heroes,
Bathed in sunlight.
Evil, haunted villains
Under a heartless moon….
No room for grey
In the human psyche….
But what if we’re in the equation?
Not like we’ve ever killed,
Or saved a life,
Or started a war,
Or stopped a killer….
We are told
In the library,
In the theater,
In the classroom,
In our minds,
That there is good and bad…
But what if we’re in the equation.

My young friend’s poem (the entirety of which you can read at the link above) invites us to see that when we are not judging from afar, things look very different. When we are in the equation, it becomes a whole lot easier to see shades of gray rather than black and white. Of course we’re not all good, but that doesn’t mean we are bad. We’re not heroes, but neither are we villains.

The question is, can we judge others with the same lens with which we judge ourselves?