Living in Shades of Gray (and hoping there’s more than Fifty)

Shades-of-gray, gun-control, sandy-hookWe live in a world of extremes, and it’s never been more apparent to me than in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting.

Extreme makeovers. Extreme sports. Extreme climate. Extreme religion.

It all boils down to an extreme reality which isn’t particularly real at all. (Are we really supposed to think the Kardashians or Honey Boo Boo are an accurate representation of reality?) I believe the influx of “reality” programming has exemplified a cosmic shift of thought and experience that is exactly the opposite of what reality should mean to all of us.

If reality can be defined as the here and now… the Present… it can be mapped as the middle point on a timeline between the Past and the Future. In my little bible of Zen and the Art of Happiness, Alan Watt professes:

Zen is simply… that state of centeredness which is here and now.

I never realized the importance of the center until I saw the extreme polarization which arose during the last presidential election and again during the latest gun control debate. Why does it seem that we are all running to the extremes? Taking sides and viewing every political/social/religious topic in the comic-book starkness and simplicity of solid black or white?

Where’s the gray? The ability to soften the solid edges and open your mind to the possibility of new thought and opinion? Why suddenly are we a nation of either Tea Partyists or flaming liberals? Religious zealots or atheists? No control on gun sales or abolishment of all guns everywhere?

Living in a world of extremes thwarts our ability to find that state of centeredness… happiness in the here and now. Blind faith and polarization are like blackout curtains shutting out the light of hope, creativity and compassion.

I have been amazed at the forums and posts I have read on both sides of the gun control debate which take the “black or white” approach, and I’ve been particularly scared by the extremist views of some gun owners who want no restrictions to their rights because they believe the government is going to turn on us some day and therefore they must be armed to fight in the revolution. They think we are all being naive, and as I have seen in the vehemency of their posts, nothing will sway them from their blind assumptions. No hope for change here.

There have always been extremists in our society and there always will be, but lately it seems we are all flocking to one side or the other leaving a vast, desolate space in the middle where nothing can grow or flourish.

If “change” had a color, it would be gray, and the shades of gray between black and white are endless. Until we meet on this gradient middle ground, change and hope for the future are stymied.


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