I was raised in a household divided. My father is very “black and white,” set in his beliefs, able to find right and wrong, moral and immoral in all situations, staunchly grounded in his beliefs, period. Whereas my mother is empathetic, capable of seeing both sides to every story and easily persuaded, her opinions are based in emotions, or very “gray.” Like mine.
And just as implied, I see this as a good and a bad thing. This perspective is synonymous with being a pushover, gullible, naïve, even hypocritical, though perhaps also sympathetic and kind. Yet, it affects my life every day, from my stance on political issues to the tiniest of details, like what I order for lunch. (I know that I initially wanted the tuna salad when the waiter asked, but upon glaring at your burger, I’m well aware of the fallacious extent of my impulsive decision.) When it comes to being gray, I am all 50 shades plus some.
In high school, I was a vegetarian for the sole purpose of loving animals. I should note, my favorite food is pulled pork, but I was dedicated, as I hated the thought of any creature suffering. My walls were littered with PETA posters displaying chickens squawking: “we are not nuggets,” and I donated to The World Wildlife Fund. I also wrote a fifteen page paper on Vivisection and why it is wrong and cruel.
Five years later, I drunkenly consumed meat, the posters on my walls changed to sorority emblems and my dad got cancer. I began to reconsider my diehard stance; wouldn’t I rather find a cure?
In debate class, I composed a PowerPoint presentation as to why I believe in the death penalty. My final slide echoed with what I imagined to be a powerful, haunting zinger, as if I were Matt McConaughey in A Time To Kill, “what if it were your mother?”
Glenn Ford, a Louisiana inmate was just recently released from Death Row after 30 years of imprisonment, which has made me contemplate my grayness. Upon finding new evidence, he was freed from the crime he was originally sentenced for, proving to be not guilty after all. How can I believe in the death penalty when many prisoners are innocent?
“My sons — when I left — was babies. Now they grown men with babies,” he said, upon liberation.
Ford, a black man tried by a white jury, is an example of our flawed judicial system. A devastating example which makes me think of Rust from True Detective (can you say McConaughCrush?) who made it clear: “It’s just one story. The oldest. Light vs. dark.” And it’s true.
We live in a world of black and white and maybe it would be better if we could all see more gray.