Black and White Idealism for Cleaner Gray

Earth was not designed to be a simple place. It’s a brash mix of natural order and furious chaos, a clashing of various systems that, while explainable through scientific study, makes for one life-altering experience after another.

Life isn’t simple, either. We’re a people caught between various systems, of our own, designed by our own hands which soon faces the overwhelming power of the presence of life that sometimes seems to just step on your new sandcastle without even the merest of second thoughts.

Many of us are caught between the systems. Do I give myself over to the chaos? Stop trying to adhere to clearer systems of belief and set morality and just go with whatever life brings me, or do I cling more tightly to my God, my guns and my Southern Baptist edition of “God’s Laws and How He’ll Destroy You if You Disobey Him?”

Believe it or not, there is a balance. God has designed little in this world without balance, and while it’s not easy finding that right balance for you and your family, it can be done and should be aimed for.

Let’s define it as white, black and gray, where white is holiness, black is sin and gray is that in-between.

Some might tell you to think of everything as either black or white, wrong or right, appropriate or inappropriate. There is no middle ground, and “the Bible doesn’t stand for it!” There’s only Heaven and Hell and if you’re not perfectly thinking about this life in that black and white, you’re certainly heading for the latter of the two.

Others might, instead, suggest that life is anything but black and white, and to ignore the very gray nature of humans across the world, is to ignore our humanity entirely. To them, gray is the only color humans can ever truly achieve, because even the best and worst of us have opposing elements of character — our pastors sometimes defile little children and our murderers sometimes save lives.

As I contended above, I believe there is room both for the black and white ideals and the application of gray.

Thinking in the Black and White affords you the cleaner thoughts of division – division between truth and illusion. Life creates multiple illusions, some good, some not. Such illusions can create a comfort layer between people and a possible harsh reality of existence, preserving their minds from the degradation of a hard life.

One must keep the black and white in mind. If you think in black and white, the range of gray in your thinking, and your life, will diminish. The cleaner separation keeps the Gray from spreading like a disease, and it can act like a virulent disease.

Make no mistake, to deny the truth of morality is to give yourself over to absolution of just about anything in life. “Oh, he’s just a product of his society. He can’t help if it he steals/kills/rapes … it’s all society’s fault.”

Believe in truth, practice truth, recognize when you’re not in the truth. Don’t mistake something for truth when it is not, don’t perpetuate an illusion because you enjoy its intoxication. If something is wrong, acknowledge its impropriety. Do not deny sin as a personal choice that is up to you to decide how wrong it is or isn’t. Such belief is why mob rule is such a terrible idea because it means the feeling of the moment is what determines what’s right and wrong.

If the crowd thinks taking from a man who has earned his home, his family, his assets, and takes them from him for their own greed, they will believe it the moral thing to do. Sound familiar?

Understanding the requirement of the immovable nature of morality is vital in remaining grounded. Morality can’t change on whim. However, like nature, it is not the only system vying for dominance in our world.

We live in a world of application, where pragmatism, for the most part, is an incredibly powerful characteristic in the nature of a man. To figure out what to do, how to do it, then do it, accomplish your goal and reap the benefit is a skill I wish more people exercised daily.

People differ like snowflakes in a snowstorm — we’re all different, with different attitudes, hopes, loves, dreams, fears and fingerprints. Because of such variety, we cannot assume that we can treat people like we treat morality. People are neither wholly good nor wholly bad. People are people, and many are just trying to get by, understand their purpose in this world and find someone who will love them.

We happen to fail a great deal, even the most successful of us (however you might define that success), and we cannot be all cold or all hot. We must approach people as people are — different, varied, colorful, opposing, conflicting, loving, hating … well, just gray.

I cannot approach Susie the same as Bobby, each is different. Each needs love, each needs attention. Remembering how different I, myself, am, I must be willing to approach each person for who they are, who they purport themselves to be, and with the respect they earn.

The balance here, is that you cannot lose sight of the enduring nature of morality. Remembering what is right and what is wrong keeps you from losing touch with reality. Trust me, if morality is mutable, changeable to whim, so will be your life’s foundation. If you work hard your whole life to be successful, and suddenly someone, or a whole bunch of someones, decide they can change what success means, your effort becomes nothing. The value of life becomes subject to emotion and petty desires.

Remembering that black and white exist is valuable. However, remaining grounded does not give you excuse to judge others. For as much as someone might fail to adhere to the black and white, so do you.

If we use a religious example, let’s use Yeshua of Natzaret — he was purported as perfect, one who abided that black and white, and yet loved people in the gray. He embraced people wherever he went, which is directly where they were. He made no bones that God’s law was solid and unchanging, but he also said his love was the most important thing a man could exercise. Love people despite their successes and failure, meet them where they are, be real to them.

Remain grounded, my friends. Don’t let anyone fool you otherwise. For those of you who are TOO grounded, let go of law-worship and love people instead. Meet them where they are and stop demanding they rise to you, you who have a plank in your own eye.

Be real, be true, be love. Night all.

Original post: August 20, 2005
::: Originally posted on CastleRose Blog :::