What ever happened to gray?

So much of the world is viewed as “black and white” these days, well it always has been, but I have been noticing a lot more of it lately.

In December 2012, Wayne Lapierre, President of the National Rifle Association said in a press conference: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.”

Famously, Former President George W. Bush, on September 20, 2001, said “If you’re not with us, you’re with the terrorists.”

More recently, Ted Cruz said this about Planned Parenthood: “We shouldn’t be sending $500 million of taxpayer money to funding an ongoing criminal enterprise.”

Of course, Planned Parenthood doesn’t do anything criminal because what they do is give healthcare to needy women, counseling to families, advice to expectant parents, and abortions, all of which are LEGAL, at least, according to the laws of the United States. But that’s not my point. The point is all these politicians, and Lapierre is a politician too, simply create a simple dichotomy: good guys and bad guys. People who agree with me and people who don’t (and those who don’t are evil, of course).

Whatever happened to discourse, argument, and the complexity of ideas? I like to think I’m a pretty good, moral person, but I don’t completely agree that there is a “good” way to do anything. In fact, I would argue that there is no such thing as good or evil. There are simply decisions people make based on the motivations that drive them. Sure, to fundamentalists of all western religions, abortion is evil. Are they wrong? No. According to their beliefs, those who participate in abortions, have abortions, support abortions, are evil and will go to Hell. There’s nothing wrong with that BELIEF. It’s when one imposes that belief on others who DO NOT believe the same thing, that it becomes a problem. Personally, I don’t believe in the same thing they do, so I am all for safe and legal abortions. I wish no one would ever have to have one, but that would mean no one would commit rape or have unprotected sex unless making a conscious choice to have a baby, and, unfortunately, that does not look like it will happen. There are so many variables and subtleties in the big decisions people make that there cannot be the simple black or white answer.

Take another hot-button issue, one of my favorites: education.

There are people, I am sure, who are involved in all this “Race to the Top” and corporate takeover of public schools that truly believe they are doing something good. Those people who are writing the thousands of standardized tests are probably trying their best to do their jobs well and think they are participating in an activity that will help to improve education in the US. Should I blame them because I disagree with the people who created those jobs or who are trying to sell the public on this standardization of education idea? I cannot. I can’t even blame people who might be for corporatization of public schools who truly believes that it will make education better. I would like to sit down with them and try to change their minds, but they are not the “bad guys.” They are not the “good guys” either. They are somewhere between black and white: gray.

So let us stop speaking in absolutes. Let us stop condemning everyone to Hell. Let us stop forcing people to take a side like everything in life is like the Super Bowl where you are either for one team or the other. Let us realize that there are a lot of people in this country, like myself, that don’t care who is in that one football game or who wins it. Honestly, just enjoy the game, if you like watching football, or enjoy the new commercials, if you don’t but watch the game, or enjoy something else with friends or family instead of the game if you don’t care and don’t watch. But I run away with my metaphor. What I am trying to say is that people need to take into consideration that there are many ways of looking at any issue, not just two, and none of them are absolutely right.

In other words, it’s okay to be gray.


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