Black and white

People say that life is not black and white, but is made up of varying shades of gray. If we imagine that between black and white there is a line dividing the two, perhaps “gray” is just our drawing that line in a different place than Truth does. If what we call white is really black, or black, white, the two overlapped appear gray.

Grayness is then a consequence of incomplete knowledge. In terms of the absolute, perhaps everything is clearly separated between good and evil, though to our eyes, or the eyes of others, understanding that difference can often be difficult.

This does not invalidate morality, however. Some believe that “grayness” over-reaches the apparent simplicity of any moral code; that the complexities of real life makes morality a thing of church and children’s schools. But the proper course is to take a humble stance, and never cease trying to comprehend where the line may actually lie. Each step we take clarifies, but does not solve, the problem of incomplete knowledge.

Since each person draws their line in a different place, not only does there exist a gray area between ourselves and Truth, but also between each person in the world. This lesser grayness has a different size and shape between every two people, according to how much the individuals differ in their understanding of right and wrong.

From this it is easy to understand why the world appears complex. If everyone took their “black and white”, and overlaid it upon everyone else’s, and then placed this against the backdrop of Truth, there would be such an amazing gradation of hue that every shade of gray is represented.

Does such a gradation imply that Truth is imperfect? If we understood life, we could adjust our line appropriately, but as it is we base what we know on our schooling, our family, our beliefs, etc.

When we match our image of black and white against another person’s, we see that there will appear a zone of gray. Intolerance begins when we accuse the other person for the existence of this grayness. Since we feel right in our beliefs, we assume it is their fault that grayness has crept into the picture. And they, for their part, think the same of us, which leads ultimately to argument and misunderstanding.

With respect to one another it is useless to ask who is responsible for the gray areas. The only constructive inquiry is to compare ourselves with the True image, and discover how to correct our own understanding. If everyone does this, naturally we will reach agreement some day.

Until that time the existence of grayness should indicate that there is much yet to be learned from life. None of us knows how close he is to a full understanding of Truth. Not until the day all grayness has finally vanished.