Our ability to comprehend is limited, and we hate that. We categorize information so we can understand it in relationship to other information. We're tribal, and we seek people like us due to an ages-old instinct that people from "our" tribe are safe for us, and strangers could want to kill us. We try to explain nature and spirituality and the occult and inspiration and art and love and every intangible in simplified terms so we can grasp at least part of it. We aren't equipped to understand everything that exists.
One tool we use is the black-or-white, right-or-wrong, good-or-bad model, in which we take even the most complex concepts and attribute to them the simplicity of binary code, or an on-off switch. We understand on or off, one or zero, working or broken. We don't understand dimmer switches nearly as readily. We tend to accept math more naturally than philosophy. One answer, please.
Nothing in life is that simple. Even black and white aren't that simple. Black is all light absorbed, and white is all light reflected. We associate black with evil and white with good, but what if we're cold? Black absorbs heat, so is wiser to wear or to shelter under. And how many shades of black are there? And of white? Visit your local paint store if you don't have an idea.
We'd have a better grasp on reality if we could tackle every judgement with a spectrum, or even a line if you wish. One end is black, the other white. Everything is somewhere on that line. Hardly anything is at either end. There is no people, no race, no religion, no goal that is inherently bad. Or good. When we realize that, I believe we'll be able to end war for all time. Yeah, I'm a dreamer.
What about art? Music? Great areas for us to start to understand nuance and finesse, subtlety and intensity. There is no right or wrong color, no right or wrong sound. All are different, all express something, and the deepest meaning of all art and music eludes most of us. But there's value in all of it. And beauty. And feeling. Communication. Life.
We struggle more with the spectrum of political stands, especially this year. We want to label our candidates and our issues so we can choose the "right" ones. This spectrum shows us, glaringly, that there is no "right." There's only interpretation, intention, history, strengths and weaknesses, perception.
How about ethnicity? I've been known to be "not surprised" that a driver is of Asian descent when he/she does something uncomfortable to my rule set. And I'm certain I'm right and they're wrong. Our cultures elicit different reactions and styles, and my judgement is inappropriate. We people of lighter skin tend to struggle with the ethnicity spectrum, partly because it's one of the many areas where life cannot be defined in two dimensions. Or even in three. There are infinite variations.
Gender? A social hot button right now, gender conversations give us the opportunity to recognize that in this area, too, nature provides a broad spectrum of degrees. No one is completely free of testosterone or estrogen. No one is completely ruled by either. I know I have traits that are traditionally perceived as masculine, and I like those parts of myself. I wear dresses, but most of my girlfriends don't. Young people are cross-dressing more than ever, partly spurred on by the popularity of cos-play and anime, but partly because they're better able to relate to varying degrees of masculine or feminine because they've grown up in a more connected world.
We want it simple, but it never was and never will be. The trick is to accept a spectrum instead of a switch, and to embrace the rainbow rather than ostracize anybody who is a different shade of life.