Is the World Gray?


Do we live in a world of duality? Is our world gray, or black and white?

After a well lubricated evening last week and having guests at our new apartment, my cousin and I got into a semi-heated discussion at 4am on life and how the world works.

About 40 minutes into our debate, we realized a few things: he is much more forgiving than I am, and I believe that most of the control lies in the individual, whereas he feels more often than I do that external forces take over at which point there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Just yesterday he mentioned that his friend who had been mugged last week received his stolen credit cards, debit card and license in the mail with a note stating that their actions be excused as these are “rough times”—cute. My cousin said to me, “see, that’s what I mean by the world is gray. People may be bad but some aren’t as bad as others.” Again, cute. I for one, don’t care whether or not they bothered to send me back my belongings which they stole—I would actually be more angry that they had my address and other personal information and bothered to send it back to me. While my cousin saw this as more admirable, or less awful of the robbers by sending back his belongings, I see them as no less dirt-baggish or scummy for sending me my stuff, being that it was mine in the first place and they had the nerve (I really wanted to put another word here) to mug me in the first place. (Not to mention they cracked him in the head and he lost consciousness for a few hours.) But hey, to each their own. This is just my opinion. But honestly, how can you measure a wrong as less of a wrong just because they did something “nice” or less mean, when their action in the first place was 100% dirty and immoral?? This is where I find things black and white, among other things.

Let’s take war as another example—regardless of any situation, I find war to be completely unethical, disgusting, and completely avoidable. However, many people see this as irrational, juvenile, hippie-esque. Call it what you want, I really have fought with this over and over again and cannot find one single justification for killing and injuring innocent human beings. Actually, I feel it’s disgusting that people say it’s sometimes “inevitable” or that war stimulates the economy. This is just completely unacceptable to me. I thought that two wrongs don’t make a right, meanwhile we try to justify war because there may be an “imminent threat”, meanwhile nothing has happened yet. Isn’t war essentially and in very primitive and simplistic terms, just plain wrong? I get a kick out of politicos who seem to justify war because there was no other way, as if there’s no alternative in politics. I see no gray area with this particular topic. I can’t even justify it as a means of preserving the state, because aren’t we a whole entire state together, a single entity, one society or community? Therefore, aren’t we just hurting each other in the end? It seems counter-intuitive…

(I don’t want to get into a discussion now about morals and ethics. That’s a whole other blog to come.)

Perhaps it’s a level of tolerance in terms of leniency, or excusing people for their actions. I’m not as sympathetic when people dig for excuses of why their lives are miserable or how things don’t go their way. No excuses—just results. You’re in control behind the wheel and you’re steering the car—you make your own path. In other words, if something isn’t going right you have full control to change the circumstances and your own course. I don’t believe in “I can’t”, or “I’m scared”, or “there’s no way”…there’s only no way if you’ve already decided that there’s no way and it’s not possible. If you say “there’s no way”, you’ve already made that decision. It’s that simple. Sure the ride won’t be easy, but I digress.

Essentially what I’m getting at is that you always have a choice. There’s no such thing as “I didn’t have  a choice.” There are always options, choices, decisions to be made, and you can always do something about every single situation. We are what we choose.

Do you believe that people can change? I don’t. Even if I did believe that people could change their prior actions (assuming they did something extremely immoral), would not be erased or forgotten—they would stay with you. Not to say that I couldn’t be civil with such people but my perceptions and feelings would already be formed and solidified and most likely not change.

In a more literal sense we are marionettes playing in a field in purgatory which is between heaven (white for purity and a sense of ‘good’) and hell (black for evil and grime). In that sense, then yes our entire world, thoughts and all imaginable perceptions are gray as they include both elements of black and white.

Where do you stand?

4 Responses to “Is the World Gray?”
  1. sykaljery says:

    Not unlike your friend, I’ve been mugged several times. Once by a pack of wild thirteen year olds-six of them. Later by two nineteen year olds, right outside my door. I called the police, because I wanted the statistic recorded for posterity, but I never pursued the investigation, or went to the line-up. My feeling, like your cousin, was that these were kids. Older kids, but still kids. They’re irresponsible, and they hurt me physically, but I still can’t see that they were entirely responsible for their actions. When I was a teenager, I had a car, and money to go to the movies with friends, and parents to make sure I came home at night. These kids don’t have that. All the women in my life at the time thought I was nuts for that attitude. Maybe its in your genes.

    • sykaljery says:

      In regards to war, I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, as I’m learning from the book, Silver, Trade and War, war is less about religion and politics than it is about money and resources. War is always about small men abusing their power to profit personally.

      However, I disagree with your suggestion that people can’t change. When aren’t we changing? I think the larger problem is that to recognize change, you need to know where you’ve started. That’s easy to tell when you’re walking down the street, harder when you’re looking back on your life.

      • itgivesyouwings says:

        I agree to a point about people changing, but disagree based on the more basic roots such as our psychological make-up I guess you can call it. For example, very simply, if you don’t learn to share at a very young age and continue to practice it, as you grow older that factor won’t change and you’re more likely to be more selfish, less caring–this will stay with you. In other words, we all change throughout the course of our lives, at least I’d hope so, but the very basic aspects of us don’t–in my opinion. I may have days where I’m nicer to certain people, or act worse to others (we all have random days like that, and encounter ups and downs), but overall, I don’t believe that we make drastic emotional changes like that, such as in the way we act towards eachother.

    • itgivesyouwings says:

      I don’t think it’s in your genes–it completely depends on 2 things I feel–how you were raised, and the experiences you’ve encountered throughout your life. Years ago I either read it somewhere or saw on tv, that by age 8, you are able to distinguish between what’s right and wrong. Kids or not, people commit “childish” acts all the time. Even adults commit heinous crimes. I completely do not think this is in your genes, but something happened that triggered the thought in your head that “this is ok” to do, when obviously it’s not. Then again, I’m not excusing the fact if you steal some food for your starving family–I’m all for it as a basic necessity. But at least go to a store and don’t attempt to hurt anybody. This sounds dumb, but honestly. When you involve weapons and violence, that’s a whole new level rather than just walking into a grocery store and shoving some food in your pocket. To an extent I don’t excuse your situation or surroundings for committing any violence against people that have done nothing to you.

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