A World with Shades of Gray
A guide on how to look at polarizing issues of the world.
Let’s answer the elephant in the room. Yes, the topic feels like it’s clickbait. While I agree with you partially, there is a better; more meaningful reason behind it. This blog talks about my life lessons, together with some research I manage to find. It talks about how polarizing we are when we look at people and different ideas. And how bad it is to see the actual truth in such ideas.
To begin with let’s take an example from our favorite fantasy that is also a mainstream discussion these days due to its anniversary release, Harry Potter. As kids (or as adults) most of us fell in love with the story. Most of my friends including me have read the book, watched the entire 8 movies at least 2 times over. We simply love how the story was built. I do not want to drag this story to Hogwarts. Let’s cut to the chase!
When you take the first few stories of the series, we all get a common perception about the wizarding world. You have good people, like Harry, Dumbledor, Hermione, and Ron. Then you have the bad people. The one who should not be named and the death eaters. Though we create this black and white separation in a fictional story, the idea is far from being fictional. Even in real life, we tend to look at people in a very black and white way. This person is good and thus a white person, while this person is bad and black.
Moving back to Harry Potter, as the story progresses, you get to know the story of Snape. A character we hated to the gut, turning out to be one of the best. Then Nevil, a fearful character that turns to become a hero. The list goes on. As the story builds up, the harder it was to maintain that clear line between black and white. The same applies in life.
The Prejudice for simplicity
From the evolution itself, we are used to simplifying issues as much as possible. It helps us to maintain our sanity in most instances. However, when it comes to complex social conduct, this trait makes us judgmental boneheads. We take two buckets as good and bad and start to put everyone in it.
“There are two kinds of people: those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don’t”
— Adam Grant
The consequences of this simplistic view on people thickens as we move the same perspective on everything else.
Take the views on climate change for an example. People have different views on climate change. Whatever you believe, some people strongly disagree while others vigorously agree that we need to take immediate actions for it. However, for some reason, this whole idea of “battling climate change” has been earmarked as a liberal idea. There is no connection whatsoever in-between climate change and your political view. However now, for a conservative ideologist, climate change is a hoax not because of any other reason, but because that is an idea associated with liberals. This is simply one example. The same concept applies in many other instances, clouding our judgment simply because we want to see the world in a binary form instead of a spectrum.
The Evil Minds
This is another very common misjudgment that most of us fall prey to. As we club everyone around us as black or white/good or evil, we tend to give unwanted credit to both parties. We assume everything that a good person does must be good. Even when something they did is clearly not, we assume that they have a bigger motive in mind to do this.
The same applies to the people we categorize as bad. We mark them as evil. Now evil never do good, isn’t it? Not only that. They make master plans that none of us fully understand! Sometimes we are so proud that we managed to notice the seeds of a very evil plan. When you have this mindset, everything they do adds up to a master evil plan. How they dress, what they say, and why they ate what they ate on January 3rd of 1987!
However, the reality is far from it! None of us are either black or white. No matter how hard we want to call ourselves all good, we both know that it is not true right? Similarly, we meet people that are full of good and bad.
Let’s call them shades of gray!
Not everything we do is always right. Sometimes we might have the right intentions, yet our actions might harm someone else. Or sometimes we are just straight on selfish!
Sometimes we may have bad intentions, yet others might pensive us as a saint while in most times, we do the good that we do with a pure heart!
When you understand this, you don’t have to refuse to work with those “black” people. Also, you will be much less disappointed by the unexpected consequences of blindly trusting the people you categorize as white.
When you understand that the world is full of shades of gray, your choice is not to be on one side of a binary world. But to move every day towards a slightly lighter shade of the spectrum.