I believe that life is seldom black and white, but rather most of the time a palette full of black, white, and many, many shades of grey. My spell checker doesn't care for “grey” with an “e”, wanting instead to heavy-handedly force me to use the much less elegant “gray.” How do I know it's less elegant? Grey Poupon, the mustard well known to be favored by sandwich-making limousine passengers uses the “e” varietal instead of the “a.” I rest my case.
Anyway, life is not so often black and white to my way of thinking, but rather somewhere in between. Strict moralists may point to this attitude of mine as an example of a societal decline toward turpitude, but I look at them and see unfortunate people who are only able to see two options in a world created by a God (strict moralists are almost always pro-God, so this is usually a good tack to take with them) so utterly complex that we couldn't possibly understand the intricacy of His (or Her, as I'm inclined to say because, you know, I'm a pot-stirrer) many creations, ourselves included. I'm a real hit at parties.
I got to thinking about this when I saw a story on the news wires about a lesbian nurse who got kicked out of the Air Force for violating the “Don't ask, don't tell” policy that has just been repealed for our armed forces. It occurred to me that “Don't ask, don't tell” seemed to presuppose that there are only two possible options for human sexuality, hetero- and homo-. But what about the percentage of people on this planet, whatever that percentage may be, who are attracted in some measure or other to both sexes? You can try to pretend it's not so, but it does happen.
Surely someone far smarter than I am has hashed this out already, but I'm intrigued by the idea, so I'm going to take a whack at it. Let's say you're in the United States Marine Corps. Let's also say that you are not an officer and a gentleman, but rather a Corporal and a bit of a lout who can't keep his yap shut. Let's say that you have a girlfriend now, but a couple of years ago you dated a man and his name was Lance, which led to a lot of terrifically funny “Lance Corporal” jokes. There's nothing quite like Humor In Uniform, is there?
Okay, you with me here? You're straight, or so it would seem, now. But because you're a lout, you blab to your buddies in the foxhole that for you it wasn't always “Semper Fi,” but sometimes “Semper Guy.” One of your pals takes offense and turns you in to the big wigs. You admit it to them. Do you get drummed out? I'm guessing no, because you're not doing it now, but I could be wrong about that. They'd probably just tell you to zip it, in more ways than one.
Just for fun, let us further muddle the situation: Say you not just admit to having had a homosexual relationship in the past, but tell your platoon that even though you’re dating some babe right now, you're not so sure about this whole liking girls thing and that you feel inclined to reengage in the conduct that you maybe are allowed to do but certainly are not allowed to admit to. So, you're still not currently doing it, but you did it before and you admit that you want to do it again, just can't find the right guy, perhaps. You're not, but you want to, and you're creeping your suddenly not-so-tough-but-rather-quite-sensitive (how-about-that?) Marine buddies out about it.
I'm interested in the answers, I guess, but more than that I'm interested in how someone could say that those situations are at all black or white, or really that many of our everyday occurrences are. I'm not at all against making situational, case-by-case, this is right, that is wrong judgments. The Marine Corps is in the business of killing people. Killing people is usually bad, but--sometimes, I guess, like when the government tells you to--not. People were very mad at football player Michael Vick for killing dogs, yet many of us are a-ok with killing other animals for sport. The world is simply not as clear cut as some people would like to have you believe.
To return to the sexuality angle, people who are generally against homosexuality typically act as if the doers of such have a choice in the matter, that if they just tried, they could be solely interested in the opposite gender. This is the way they find the ability to judge homosexuals as “bad,” or if they’re a little more kind, judge the behavior as bad. If you want to have some fun, try this sometime when someone says that sexual preference is a choice: Ask them, if it’s just a choice, what it would take for them to make the choice to engage in homosexual behavior. This usually gets them all riled up and uncomfortable, particularly if you start throwing out options like “get a little drunk,” or “stranded on a desert island with (insert attractive celebrity of the same gender.)” They usually then profess that it’s not a choice for them; they’re straight and that’s all there is to it. If you are gentle at that moment, sometimes you can get them to see that if it’s not a choice for them, perhaps sexual attraction is not something any of us choose, it’s just something we are. But usually not. Usually you will get a punch thrown in your direction, so tread lightly if you ever decide to try this.
So don’t tell me that there is an absolute right and a wrong to everything, only a black or white. I do like duality in people, as long as they’re willing to admit that there are far more than just two choices for ways to be. Do you remember when you were a teenager how committed you were to the idea that your parents were out of touch and knew nothing about (pick a topic that you were soooo passionate about then)? Are you willing to admit that now that you're a parent (if you are) that you completely understand their perspective, and perhaps even—gulp—agree with them? Or have you at least moved a little off of your passionate stance to some middle ground? That’s the grey, and in grey, I find beauty.