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Life Isn’t Black and White. It’s a Million Shades of Grey

Being human, we often look at others through the tunnel vision of our own life experience. But it doesn’t take an Einstein to realize that using our own limited vision of life can lead to discrimination, misunderstandings, even hatred.

Although we are much more similar than dissimilar, we all have our own unique upbringing. Some of us have had a relatively easy ride, being born into financial comfort and possessing a stable and encouraging family life.

Others are not so lucky. Some children are born into situations which are, quite frankly, almost guaranteed to remove any hope of that child growing up to lead a happy, productive life.

Given that we find it very difficult to see outside our own square at times, it is important that we do not become rigid in our attitude to certain topics and that we allow our minds to retain the flexibility of seeing both sides of every story.

These topics include those touchy subjects: abortion, homosexuality, drug use, prostitution. The list goes on. It’s always easier to say that abortion is wrong, homosexuality is wrong, drug use is wrong, than it is to think about how the situation came about in the first place. It takes energy to think. But it is permanently rewarding.

I came across this saying recently. I don’t know who wrote it, so my accolades go to the person who did. It simply says:

Always put yourself in others' shoes. If you feel that it hurts you, it probably hurts the other person, too.

This is a great concept. Putting ourselves in the shoes of the mother who murdered her autistic son because her husband had walked out and she struggled on alone without assistance for years, helps us to understand the desperation that she was feeling. Judging her as a murderer is dead easy. Understanding and accepting her actions as all too human requires thinking.

It’s very easy to state categorically that abortion is wrong, period. It’s much harder to look at the reason why an individual woman made that decision and then nod and say “Yes, now I understand.” It’s the same with the drug user. No-one would choose the end point in the life of a crack user, for example. But again, there are reasons why some people stop at half a dozen cigarettes on the school bus while others go on to die alone in a dirty backstreet from an overdose. But it takes exercising the grey matter to even begin to understand why?

I encourage readers to metaphorically put on the shoes of the people they do not understand. It can be very fulfilling to feel and understand the pain of others. Life really isn’t black and white at all. It’s truly a million shades of grey.

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