Friday, September 5, 2008
Shades of Gray
Click on the picture to see where it came from. It seemed to work so well for my topic.
I was raised by a feminist mother who never talked much about her faith or her politics. She raised us to be strong women and I believe my sisters and I are. Unlike my mother, I am NOT a feminist, but having feminism spoon fed my entire childhood and adolescence, served right up alongside Novus Ordo Catholicism, it was an angst filled road to realize I am a Traditional Catholic with traditional family values, and the polar opposite of a feminist. I'm sure my family wonders where in the world I came from.
The other day I had the pleasure of joining two of my cousins, strong women raised by the sister's of my mother, but were peers of my mother due to the age differences between the sisters, and share a lot of my mother's thoughts and perspective. I wholeheartedly enjoyed the lunch, food aside which was entirely delicious, and learned a lot about myself during this visit.
At one point in the coversation, my cousin remarked that she lives in a world of gray, but her husband is entirely black and white. She was saying that it can be frustrating for her sometimes because he is so black and white they cannot immediately see where the other is coming from on some important issues. I was thinking how I could understand it would be frustrating to live with a person who was so wholly black and white. She described her husband as being resolute on things, able to see the opposing viewpoint but not the middle ground. There are no mitigating circumstances, there is no compromise. I was thinking, this is not a pretty picture, I wouldn't want to be black and white with no gray. Then she continued to say when issues come up, she will always wonder what caused things to be as they are, why did the people involved act as they did, and she will wonder if she should alter her judgement of the actions based upon the circumstances that led to them. I was thinking, that sounds like waffling. Then she said her husband would look at the issue, see what was done and pronounce it right or wrong, agree or disagree, etc. He would not make allowances for the fact that someone made a wrong decision because he was in a situation where it was difficult to make the right one. I was appalled that I fell into this category and admitted based upon that definition, I was a black and white and not a gray. I wanted to be a gray, to have the sort of compassion that my cousin has, to be able to see all the mitigating circumstances and to allow for them. I was genuinely sad that I was not a gray. But only for a moment.
I started thinking about free will. We all have it and we can choose how we will act. We face hundreds of decisions every day from what to wear and eat, how to spend our time, whether or not to vote Republican. Some are big and some are small, but we all have choices to make each day and how we act makes us who we are. I am aware there is gray in the world, but for the most part (not entirely, thankfully) I reject the gray. I have to make an effort to see and react to the gray, for the most part I see things very cut and dry. I do not believe there are mitigating circumstances where abortion should be allowed. I do not believe in excuses. I can be convinced, with my mother's heart, that there can be reasons behind behaviors that are not immediately apparent, but they usually need to be pointed out, I need to stop and consider there is gray. I'm getting better, I want a little gray in my life, it is exhausting being so black and white. But there is a time for black and white with no compromise.
Black and white is what was causing me, for the first time in my life, to be strong enough to go against everything I was ever taught and refuse to vote this election. I talked about it in earlier posts. I cannot in all good conscience vote for either candidate. I've never been so disgusted over my choices. Sarah Palin has introduced shades of gray. I have no idea what to do now. All the reasons I did not want to vote for McCain are still there. But Sarah is gray on the Republican ticket. My first (black and white) instinct is she is not enough to sway my non-vote into a Republican vote. Christopher Ferrara in this article, and Mary Alexander (on and off the blog), and many others are trying to show me the gray. I think this election just got interesting.