The Black, the White, and the Grey
“There is so much grey areas in every story, nothing is so black and white.” (Lisa Lang)
The air was tense with the rising mayhem in the street. Face to face was two groups of outrageous people mouthing profanities against each other. Their fists and victory signs waving in the air were in sync with their rhythmic loud chants. Soon this verbal flame-throwing drama turned into an inevitable riot with both sides throwing rocks, bottles, and just anything at each other that served the purpose of letting their anger out. Had the police not intervened, both the sides had tormented and ripped each other apart like savages.
Watching this chaotic scene from a distant window, not knowing what the fuss was all about, you would still guess a thing or two: a racial conflict getting out of hand, maybe two sectarian mobs denouncing each other, perhaps a political rivalry went a little too far or…, but then you would shrug off your thoughts and ask yourself; Does it really matter what they were fighting for? There could be dozens of reasons as the world is not short of conflicts that have always put humans against each other. You turn your tv on, scroll down your social media stream or glance at the front page of any newspaper, and many such adversarial stories would be flashing out as breaking news on a regular basis.
What puts us against each other is the assumption of our own correctness and the rejection of another perspective.
As we grow in a world full of conflicts, we get introduced to many bipolar ideas that intrude in all aspects of our lives and the societies that we live in. Our classic conditioning, vulnerabilities, biases, and ignorance force us to cling only to the ideas that we are accustomed to. Slowly and gradually we become so hardwired to these prevalent ideas and narratives that it becomes almost impossible to accept any other perspective that is not aligned to ours. These ideas start to transcend our basic personal beliefs and go all the way shaping the very fabrics of our collective moral, social, political, and religious beliefs and turn us into cults, groups, communities, societies, and nations.
Addicted to the images of our own hallucination, we try to make others see what we see and believe what we believe in. We can argue for hours but would not engage in a dialogue. We listen very little but shout without a pause. We try to prove our point of view with utter rigidity and arrogance to an extreme that others get highly offended. Our tone of voice becomes harsh and condescending. Our ego grows out of proportion while sanity gets eclipsed. Our aim becomes to defeat rather than to convince.
This is how we see the world around us, in Black and White, where there is less chance of accommodation, acceptance, and exchange. This is how acceptance becomes humiliation and agreement feels naïve. Eventually, our conflicts lead us nowhere but to sheer contempt and eternal hatred against each other.
Remember what the US President George W. Bush diplomatically asserted in the aftermath of 9/11?
“You have to decide either you are with us or with the enemy. There is no in-between”. (George W. Bush)
How arrogantly, rather smartly, he forced the world to stand by his narrative of “War against Terror” and asked for unconditional support on his decision to invade Afghanistan. His blinded view and rigged stance that later proved to be disastrous, not only caused unrepairable damage to the region but also created a huge rift between Muslims across the globe and the western world. Mr. Bush must be having a nice retired life in his Taxes ranches but the world is still paying a huge price for his lunacy and madness.
Having a glance at human history tells us that our way of looking at the world in Black and White is not new. The legacy of the rivalry of ideas had been prevalent throughout the ages and continues to date. Empire vs Empire, orthodoxy vs modernity, Imperialism vs democracy, communism vs capitalism, science vs religion, fanaticism vs liberalism, gender biases vs gender equality, this religion vs that religion, this nation vs that nation, and the list goes on and on.
Why can’t we see the Grey Area?
In the world we live in, nothing is absolute. Nothing is all black nor white. The idea of absolutism may exist in theory but in reality, things are always relevant. A communal system can not survive without respect for each other and reciprocity, accepting and getting accepted, and respecting and getting respect in return. But most of the time we try to cling to some extreme ideologies that appear to be absolute realities. We see the world in Black and White, ignoring the presence of any other possible reality. These other possible realities reside in the“Grey”. The grey area is the wide spectrum stretched between the Black and White of things but unfortunately ceases to exist for those who prefer to see the world only through the lenses of their own biases and interests.
Don’t look any further, just look at your own self as an example. What are you, a saint, an angel, a man with a clean slate character who has never done anything wrong or worth condemnable? Or are you nothing but a soul void of love and empathy, a loathing antagonist like Darth Vader consumed by the darkness of the universe? The answer would be NO.
You are none of them but maybe a little bit of all of them. Your character is the composites of everything, a bit of love, a bit of hate, a chunk of humility and a portion filled with vanity, a manifestation of honesty as well as corruption, a heart clean as crystal yet contaminated with grudges, a past full of bitterness but present full of joys. You are everything but not Black nor White. You are the greys that reside between contradictions that pull us like magnets. We all are in constant search of some truths and swing between our findings like a pendulum unless we want to settle. Our thoughts and ideas are continually transforming as we get exposed to new information and knowledge.
Look at the Grey Area from a communal or cultural perspective, we have to admit the reality that we are different from each other in terms of ethnicity, religion, political inclination, or economic classifications but together we form another beautiful reality also known as “Mixed Salad Bowl” where we all retain our individualities but co-exist in harmony and peace. Believing in any sort of self-supremacy could be anything but true. And any such belief is no less than a self-destructive bomb that can explode anytime if not reconsidered.
We all have so much to share and learn from each other only if we let go of the idea of Black and White and accept the reality of the “Grey”. Let’s accept the fact that it's the small imperfections that make us all unique and beautiful. It is our ignorance that leads us to curiosity. We shouldn’t be feeling ashamed of borrowing and learning from others. We need to respect all faiths and belief systems as much as we respect ours. Believing in the greys is not being naive or confused, rather it is a very positive attitude that reflects the openness of our mind and heart for the world. Embarrassing the grey is expanding our horizon and vision in width and depth. It instills empathy in our souls and transforms us to become better accepting human beings.
“Our Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” (Stephen R. Covey)