Five years after founding The Gratitude Campaign, I've received over 10,500 e-mails, and 1,500 comments on YouTube. It seems that there is a lot to talk about with regard to gratitude for those who serve; not the least of which is the ever present challenge of understanding how to keep the politics out of it. Hopefully this blog will give us an opportunity for some rational, reasonable, and respectful discussion. I hope you'll join us...

~Scott Truitt, FOUNDER


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On Finding Beauty in Gray

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.

1 comment:

  1. I think for truth to be truth, in that it is an all embracing representation about something that is always true, it has to be by definition absolute. For it to be truth, it has to be truthful about something. Success is only success if you are experiencing success. Outside of this boundary success cannot exist. Therefore truth is only true if what is being said it actually true. Outside of this it fails to be true, and rather becomes a fact.

    In saying that, there is facts. Facts in my opinion whilst similar to truth, are not truth. They are your observations of x, in that they are shaped by your experiences, past and outlook. Thus you arrive at a situation where you have my facts, your facts etc. Out of this I think you arrive at a situation where your facts work for you, and their facts work for them.

    The sticky thing is, the world if simplified is polarised. You have light, and dark, good and bad, right and wrong. Light and dark could be considered truth, in that if darkness were to exist in light, it would no longer be considered light. Good, may become a fact; in that egalitarian thinking prescribes situations positively effecting the majority as holistically good, despite a bad outcome for a minority. That same could be applied to right and wrong.

    Facts can be polarised, yes, and they cause conflict, as does truth. The world is round. Yes or no. One of those answers it true the other is false. Thus you have polarised view surrounding something that is binary in it's nature (Without getting into semantics about the exact shape of the world, flat is a long way away from round). You will have wrong people and you will have right people. You have black and white. I think this is where love enters the equation. Without love, polarised views clash and wars start. Love is a boundary-less force. It is not defined by the views we have as humans, those 'walls' the surround our facts. Since it can see over our walls it embraces what on the other side. We've arrived at the same conclusion via different paths, in that viewpoints are the cause of wasteful conflict. And that it's not always important to be right. However I accept that I could be wrong on this, truth thing, or I could be right. That will not stop me appreciating the elegance of your writing, and the thoughts conveyed, either way.

    I think it's about honour. Truth being true, and by association the lack of truth being false, you will always have a polarised society. By honouring people despite our understanding of their opinions, we transcend conflict. You can only really do that if you love people. Otherwise you intellect doesn't have enough power to climb walls to see the other side.


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