As some of you may know, I hail from the Emerald City – Seattle. And, although Seattle is well known for its rain, most Seattleites will tell you that it’s not the rain that gets to you, it’s the gray. The rain in Seattle is actually a very light, misty rain most of the time – barely noticeable, and certainly not requiring of an umbrella. However, even when it’s not raining, the skies in Seattle can be a perfectly even, formless, featureless, uniform sheet of gray from mid-October through early June. After 30+ years in Seattle, it’s not the rain that gets to me – it’s the gray.
With regard to people, and our interactions with one another on the other hand, I’ve come to find a tremendous beauty in grayness. You see, in my observation, people are becoming increasingly polarized – especially in our infotainment. Objectivity, reason, logic, fairness, and understanding all seem to be endangered values as we give more and more of our attention and energy to the far left and the far right commentators ranting about their opposition, verbal jabs and accusations flying, fueled by what one of my former teachers used to call “dumb logic”; or worse, complete ignorance. What’s worse, we frequently presume that if someone is saying that something is “X” that means that they are saying that it can’t be anything else – it can’t also be “Y” or “Z” in addition to being “X”. And we attack and debate accordingly, based on an incomplete and presumptuous understanding of their point of view.
The truth is, there seldom is a capital “T” Truth. There is your truth, my truth, and any number of other truths depending on our own circumstances, experiences, priorities, and points of view. To say that any issue is black and white is to live in ignorant bliss; or perhaps egoic bliss. They may be one in the same. As I have mentioned before, there is no absolute “right” and absolute “wrong”. There is only what is, and whether what is works for you or not. Finding, or achieving what works – what is productive – for you typically requires not just finding what works for you, but also respecting what works for your “opponent”, and finding that sweet spot in the middle -- the gray that lies between the black and the white.
It is amazing how much time and energy can be spent when two polarized viewpoints go head to head in the hopes that one will win out as empirically correct. I invite you to consider that we don’t always have to be “right” – just productive. We don’t always have to agree -- just cooperate. We don’t always have to like, or even understand opposing opinions -- just respect them. I invite you to join me, here in my wonderful, beautiful, healthy gray world.