This I believe
I believe in gray. I have friends who are judges—the kinds who put on black robes over their pantsuits and sit in courtrooms––other friends too––who know the world to be a black and white place. Nice and neat. A place where people are innocent or guilty, wrong or right, fools or angels. But my mind doesn’t work that way. I believe that it is okay to believe simultaneously that Palestinians are right, and that the Israelis are right. That Sarah Palin was both the worst thing that happened to smart savvy women, and the best thing. I believe in all shades of gray because there is always more than one place to stand from which I can get a better view. When I say, “It all depends,” I really mean it. The dialogue in my own head is like a Sunday Talk Show, where I am in turn convinced by the reasonableness of each successive point of view. It’s not that I am a moral relativist. I support the death penalty, except that I don’t because “We-The-People” have this annoying habit of being wrong.
I used to be embarrassed by swimming in gray. For a long time I was married to someone who always knew the right answer for everything. He could identify liars and crooks instantly. (This was good because he was a banker). And he knew absolutely positively where to get the best steak, the best mocha almond ice cream, the finest tailor, the best deal on a car, who was worth knowing and who was a dud. Black. White. White. Black. When he died last year, one of the clutches in my heart was that I would lose a source of certainty. He’d know whether the bailout was a good idea or ill conceived. Or whether the Israelis should have stormed into Gaza. He’d know that answer in a snap.
I need the noisy chorus of viewpoints, of disagreements, and yes, buts. I believe in listening to all the voices from Gaza and Jerusalem, from lenders and borrowers, from the experts who “believe” in global warming, and the ones who can marshal facts that show that climate change is cyclical.
I believe still listening even when my mind is made up because it should require a lot of information for me or anyone else to decide serious things. Make a decision, modify a decision. I believe in gray.
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