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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Black and White

Most of us are taught that not everything is black and white.
Usually, I agree. Mature responsibility calls us to see the world with all its colors and nuances. People's stories may be shaded in colors that explain their attitude - how a person might responds to you and to his community.  People are not all the same. We are not homogenous gray streaks set against a white background.  We must be sure to watch our world - our community with patience enough to see its subtile colors.
There is a time, though, to turn off all that contemplation and revert to our black and white vision, if only long enough to gain perspective.  We must all have certain principles that are not overly fluid, basic beliefs that are not changed with every flashy light that shines.  
A good technician can make any subject appear blue or green or yellow. . . A good speaker may describe a table, and the snow with which it is covered, in such a way that we are convinced both are yellow.

That speaker may use our learned fear of yellow snow to make us afraid of the table. We will refuse to sit at the table or include the table in any of our activities. But is the table actually as yellow is we have been told? We must take time to view the table  for ourselves, without the color of language and hyperbole. Using our own principles of what is right and what is wrong, of what we know, not what we fear, we must take another look at the table.

Things are not always as we are led to believe.  A person who looks good and speaks well may be using flashy colors and lights to hide her true nature. It is up to us to turn down the lights long enough to see the real shape and form of a subject, be it a congressional representative, a social issue, or a few white tail deer, on a hillside, digging under a thin layer of fallen leaves as they search out acorns and beech nuts for sustenance.
There are many subjects that benefit from our black and white vision.  With each other, or in our places of government or in our churches, we talk about the many ways we should treat people that don't have as much as we have. The colored version tells us that there are many reasons these people are not doing well, they are victims of circumstances, they are lazy they don't have functioning families, they have temporarily lost their jobs, or have become disabled.   Our black and white version of the same subject simply shows us that we are looking at a person who is hungry when we have extra. We know people shouldn't go hungry.
We need the colored versions to figure out each person's story once he is fed but our black and white picture tells us to first get him fed!
This has been a snowy winter for most of us in the eastern United States.  In general, our temperature is warmer so the Great Lakes are not frozen in places that have frozen in our recent past. All that missing ice means that there is more water to be picked up by prevailing winds, turned into snow and deposited a few hundred miles away on my lawn.
I yearn for the sun to warm my garden, melt its snowy blanket and bring back its beauty. Then I remember to use my black and white vision.
Ignore the missing color, the reds of echinacea, yellows of day lilies, the lavender of a lilac.
Instead, I see what is there. . .
shape and form . . . 
. . . waves of shadow and light.
The snow has led me to use my black and white vision, but it is only  temporary vision, for color is what makes nature most interesting.  I love the color, the way light plays on an individual subject giving each its own unique image, its own story. While I will sometimes see the world as black and white, I'll never forget the color.


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