Embrace the struggle

As a (hopefully) mature adult, a parent, and a human being in 2017, I feel like I am living in a world of black and white. Where only one side matters, only one opinion can be right, and any opinion or action that doesn’t jive is WRONG. I wonder if we as human beings are losing the ability to compare, to contrast, to see multiple sides or shades of gray in practically any issue at all.

I really hope I’m wrong, because the hollow superficiality of life in black and white is soul-sucking.

If the need to break things down in to digestible bytes and into right and wrong has increased lately, I have to wonder if it is at least partially related to our deep seated need for control and how impossible it is to attain in the hyper-speed world we live in.

I personally don’t see black or white anywhere — I see a world full of shades of gray, where nothing is ever 100% right every time. And navigating this black and white world is getting more confusing by the hour.

1. The dichotomy between recognizing that it is not a woman’s fault that she was assaulted, and recognizing that tools do exist to prevent/limit the magnitude of many specific instances of assault, is real.

2. The dichotomy between the need for a safe space to be able to heal from trauma, and the need to be able to participate in the real world, where there will always be someone who disagrees with you, is real.

3. The dichotomy between recognizing what outside influences prime me for failure and my responsibility to own my actions and my failures, is real.

4. The dichotomy between working my ass off to be a good mom and the need to empathize and not to feel — and act! — all holier-than-thou when I see a parent in what looks like a “failure moment,” is real.

5. The dichotomy between my need to recognize/respect my feelings when someone does something that upsets me and the need not to blame others for my discomfort, is real.

6. In some situations, the dichotomy between my right to be treated as a human being deserving of respect and my need to survive, is real.

And we can take this much further, to practically any public issue today/ For example:

7. The dichotomy between the individual’s responsibility to “pull their own weight” and society’s responsibility to care for those in need, is real.

8. The dichotomy between the need to allow the free market to do its job to promote a healthy economy and the need to protect the little guy from being chewed up and spit out by the free market, is real. (Thomas Friedman’s description of the dichotomy of the Lexus and the olive tree is true on so many levels.)

9. The dichotomy between the desire and need for individual independence/self-determination and the desire and need for societal/governmental protection and oversight, is real.

10. The dichotomy between the individual’s right to choose and their descendants’ right not to suffer because of the previous generation’s poor choices, is real.

And there are SO many more. Because no matter what we do, no matter where we turn, there is always another point of view. And putting any one point of view on a pedestal as the absolute truth leads to absurdity, abuse and the stifling of the valid criticism that we need in order to improve and grow. Because EVERY point of view is flawed — because WE are flawed.

Because part of our purpose in this flawed and multi-faceted world is to find ways to synthesize these dichotomies, to find new ways to combine conflicting truths. And maybe, just maybe, if we can stop looking at the world in black and white, we won’t be resigning ourselves to life in gray-scale, but we’ll finally build a world of all the colors and hues we deserve.

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