Friday, November 28, 2008
Black and White
I like to draw nature. Partly because it's colourful, and I need more colour in my life, but also because I cannot draw animate objects, although I do sometimes try.
The flower on the left is roughly based on a daffodil, but it's design and colouring are my own creation, drawn freehand and 'off the cuff'. I'm proud of it.
Nature is full of shades. How many different greens exist when the sun shines on a leaf? How many whites on a falling snowflake? Is grey a colour of itself, or a shade of black, or of white?
The world around us is full of variation and subtlety. So why do so many people see life in terms of black and white? We have left or right in politics; capitalism or communism in economics; right and wrong in morality.
There are places and instances where there is only one answer, where it is black or white, but those are rarities. Mathematics is right or wrong. 2 + 2 will only ever equal 4, whatever philosophers may sometimes argue.
What of killing? Is it always wrong? Is there such a thing a good murder?
Politicians believe that state ordained killing in the form of war is justified, as do some religions. Assisted death, or Euthanasia is another example where killing can seem to be justified to some people.
Ten years ago I would have said that neither is right, now I'm not so sure. In an ideal world there would be no war, no military forces and no killing in the name of the state, but we don't live in a an ideal world. Ours is an imperfect mix of societies and customs that conflict with each other, conflicts that are heightened by those with a desire to control the lives of others. Should we let those people rule the world in order for there to be no war?
If we can avoid a fight, we should do so, but some people give you no choice but to fight. They will not listen to reason, or accept your point of view. They want you to agree with them, submit to them, or die. Or force you to watch your children die until you submit.
Is killing justified to destroy the violent? Is it a choice between two evils? Those who would say that it is better to submit than kill tend see the world in terms of black and white, right and wrong and have usually never lived under the rule of the violent.
Discussions over Euthanasia follow the same path. It is usually condemned by those who are not in the position of the unfortunate few for whom death is a merciful release. Those who know pain have more sympathy.
The world we live in has shades of colour. Some of those shades lighten our life and bring variety to our existence. We meet and make friends with people who, in terms of personality, are shades of ourselves, but we are forced to live lives that allow only for extremes. Why? Control.
My ex-wife was, and still is, a person of extremes. She would swing from one mood to another, leaving me confused and frustrated, verbally poking me until she got a reaction, then all apologetic when I was angry. Politicians and businesses do the same, swinging us from boom to bust, apologising or blaming when it goes wrong. When the situation has calmed, they start again.
We are led by those who live by the philosophy of 'black and white'; when all we want to do is live in shades.