PEOPLE TEND to see situations and decision-making as: Shall it be THIS or THAT. Many of us tend to see only black or white alternatives; good or bad options; this route or that to take to a destination; this option or that to follow. Sometimes considering only those polar opposites will lead to a good decision, to the right route taken. But sometimes it will lead to no decision being taken or the wrong decision being taken because both options seem good . . . or both seem bad.
I’m not sure where my appreciation for the gray zone came from – that GRAY ZONE that is somewhere between two extremes. Now, however, it is a permanent way I see the world and function within that world. I’ve recently come to call that flexible mind set Spectrum Thinking. In design, I call it Creative Accommodation.
Take Race. How silly to think of just Blacks and Whites. Who is racially pure anyway! That narrow spectrum tends to divide us while Spectrum Thinking will view us all on a very long and continuous spectrum from the palest skin tone to the darkest.
Another example that might be cited is Gender. Long ago there were just males and females: men and women. Then came along effeminate males and butchy females. Then came long gays and lesbians and bisexuals. Then, with medical advancements, transsexuals came on the scene and also shemales. And what of all the people who identify with a gender contrary to their birth gender? And what of the people who are in transition from one gender identity to another but who have not yet arrived at their desired destination? All this is to point out that today there is a spectrum of sexuality that has been identified with all shades of gray between the polar opposites. Is this not a good argument for Spectrum Thinking?
Yet another realm in which Spectrum Thinking will apply is religion and belief in God. To create just two categories, believers and atheists, renders shallow the options for belief. I, for one, am both an atheist and a believer — see my writing on this site titled: Why I Don’t Believe in God and Why I DO. In choosing to be either a believer or an atheist eliminates the prospect of a nuanced belief system that unites science with morals, and evolution, and the highest aspirations of man.
Politics is also rife with either or thinking. The political parties have become like social clubs or sports teams. Rigid support and allegiance to a particular party oftentimes trumps reason and action for the common good.
We know the phrase: there are two sides to every story. That is often true — but deeper probing of ‘a story’ might reveal a spectrum of ‘sides.’ I think of the comment: its not the answer that’s important, it’s how the question is asked. Phrasing the question one way could yield simply two opposing answers. Asked differently, a broad range of responses might emerge. This leads to: what really is the question that should be asked.
More on this later . . . .