Gray Matter

Happy new year, first of all.

There’s a little problem I want to address…. well, it’s not a problem. Well, it is. Er… you’ll see.

We humans are a very peculiar race. We raise our kids not only with the intention of teaching them how to survive, but also to thrive. This thriving consists of using tools to our advantage, but it also includes the manipulation of other people, objects and occasions based on the circumstances at hand. We call them “morals.”

Growing up, we’re taught very strictly that there are things that we can do and others that we verily should not. Of course, when we reach a certain age, we understand why our parents forbade us from doing certain things and that there are certain occasions when doing those things are okay. But when we’re told we can’t do something, it comes with the question of “why?” (maybe not at an early age, but I believe it begins to surface at around age five). And to these questions, there’s perhaps one easy answer: “because it’s wrong.”

But not everything we do is wrong. And not everything we do is right. Weren’t there times when we’d just pass homeless people begging at the side of the freeway exit and our parents would tell us not to pay them any heed? Wasn’t that wrong?

No. In fact, nothing is ever completely wrong and nothing is ever completely right. Even that statement was neither completely right nor wrong. The truth is, we don’t live in a world of black and white. We live in a world that’s fifty shades of…. yeah. You get the picture.

All throughout elementary and middle school, we’re inundated with the message that things in history were “right” and “wrong.” Historical figures, events, and people are all generalized into these categories and anyone who is in neither extreme is simply left out or mentioned very briefly.

It wasn’t until high school that I began to notice these patterns. We were assigned novels in English class that showed me both sides of an argument–and eventually allowed me to be able to be reasonable. I know this fact makes me sound trite, but when you’re in grade school all your life, you’re extremely ignorant (but that’s a different post for another time). When you’re growing up, you’re in a position where all your decisions are made for you, whether you notice or not. Your choices hardly carry any weight, if any at all. It’s not completely necessary for you to be able to see both sides of an argument as objectively as possible.

As we grow up, we’ll be faced with more and more of these “gray” choices. There’s no good way to practice, either, with the exception of a few movies and games. Just know that if you have to make a choice, there’s a very high chance that there is another side to the situation that you cannot see, cannot understand and therefore cannot sympathize with. This other choice will have pros and cons that you will never know. It’s a crazy world, and you just gotta take it as it comes.

Enjoy your gray life.

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