Isn’t it interesting how much we like to divide reality into halves?
Black and white, liberal and conservative, rich and poor, red states and blue states, pro-life and pro-choice, masculine and feminine, heaven and hell. Can it really be that there are only two choices in so many areas of existence?
No. Life in all of its complex, mystifying, aggravating variety is truly shades of gray, not black and white.
Diane Ackerman, naturalist and poet, speaks of our fondness for artificial “twosies” in her book “An Alchemy of Mind.” She is addressing the question of whether nature or nurture explains our personalities:
Even to ask that question implies a dichotomy nature doesn’t pose. Only we pose it. It’s easier for our brain to handle alternatives, to divide every issue into extremes, which requires less brainwork to fathom and less time to evaluate…life rarely offers clear alternatives. Most of life sprawls on a continuum of possibilities, compromises, extenuating circumstances…most of anything falls between opposite poles, every idea or feeling includes gradations.
It’s liberating to stop putting ourselves—and others—into simplistic pigeonholes. Am I a believer or a non-believer? Actually, both. Am I for or against abortion? Indeed, for and against. Am I a supporter or a critic of the Iraq invasion? All of the above.
And so it goes. Virtually every question I can think to ask myself defies a dualistic conceptualization. Do I believe in fate or free will? Yes and yes. Do I have faith in religion or in science? Absolutely.
White is part of black is part of white.
Shades of gray.
Neither this nor that.
It’s the something else I crave.