Monday, April 24, 2017

Grey Areas

So earlier today I was listening to the latest Freakonomics podcast episode called "Earth 2.0: Is Income Inequality Inevitable?" and one of the guests said something to the effect of "any argument that puts something as entirely good or entirely bad is incredibly naive," and I found myself nodding along to the statement.

Just a couple of hours after listening to that, I watched Anugerah Meletop Era on tv with my parents, and even though a large portion of the show made me cringe, I was reminded of the above quote when my father said in passing that the award show was a way of redistributing wealth. I found myself nodding along to that as well.

For all the ads both on and off ad-breaks, it did provide a platform for musicians to work. It gave the performers, stage hands, costume designers, make-up artists, producers, camera crew, lighting people, etc. an income. It allowed people of all stars and stripes who just want to get by, get by. For all the promotion of consumerism that happened on the show, it allowed a whole bunch of people a way of fending for themselves in the capitalist system they live in. And for that, one cannot say that the show is all good, or all bad. It occupies a grey area.

And I think most things in life are in the grey area. Most things are not all good, nor are most things all bad. Living a life of prayer is "good" in the sense that one might position themselves better in the sight of their chosen deity, but time spent in prayer is time spent away from helping fellow people, and service to others is real important too. And any time taken engaging in community service takes away time from family. And time spent with family isn't spent working to earn a living income to pay the bills and put food on the table. And so on and so forth the arguments go.

The sign of an enlightened mind (at least in my view) is a mind that is on the lookout for good things in bad things and bad things in good things. The first step of course is to be able to acknowledge that such a reality exists. Once one is able to accept that reality, it becomes easier to spot those shades of grey. I'm not saying it's easy (it gets super tough a lot of the time), but it does get easier.

One thing I don't like about it is that thinking this way makes me doubt a lot of things. I am filled with self-doubt about most of my decisions in life because I know there are bad bits that come with the good bits, and I'm not confident enough in my own judgement to be real sure about any of my own judgements, which is why a team is always helpful in any of my endeavours. They allow me perspectives outside of myself to lean on in times of doubt.

Which is why sometimes I am jealous of people who aren't aware of grey areas. Some people seem to be able to see the world as black and white and there isn't much wiggle room at all in between. People who aren't aware of grey areas are able to live less doubtful lives, and are able to make more confident decisions, I feel like. I used to be like that. I used to live believing that I knew right from wrong all the time, and right can only be right while wrong can only be wrong, end of discussion.

But that view of the world lacks empathy, it lacks kindness, it lacks awareness, it lacks perspective. And given a choice, I'd probably want to be aware of grey areas. While I do live most of my life in doubt, nowadays, I also get to be all high and mighty in my head because I am aware of grey areas, and I can sit on a high horse and pity the people below me who don't have the perspective that I do. Berlagak kan? Ugh, I disgust me.

So yeah, grey areas. They're a lot more of a thing than I'd like them to be, but we've got to live with them, a lot of times in them.

1 comment:

Shahirah Hasbullah said...

Human beings are Allah's greatest creation. And I think what sets us apart from the other creations is He gave us Aqal to think. And to adopt a dichotomous black & white view of the world is to waste Allah's greatest blessing.

Great post as always!!

Keep on inspiring people :)