black and white


…what would it be like to live in a black and white world?




Now, I’m not talking about color!

                                 Savor still those yellow daffodils and the brilliant hues of life!

I’m talking about stuff…issues and matters.

Black and white allows for no gray, no middle ground blurring of the two ends.

            Nothing in between…just two frames and everything must go in one or the other.

We use the aphorism black or white frequently…it denotes either, or as if there is most assuredly one or the other.

Such clarity and simplicity is rare.  Are you familiar with the KISS principle?

.                                             Keep It Simple Stupid

A departure from simplicity moves one in the direction of the complex.

Simplicity is consistent with the black and the white; complexity is not.

Terms such as reductionism, macro and micro and the big picture all lend themselves to the discussion.  We tend to simplify things…because we’d rather consume a byte at a time.

So many things are, by necessity – either, or.



either safe or out



.        …early or late…guilty or not guilty…skilled or unskilled…Democrat or Republican…

We regularly offer quips that are best understood as generalizations.  Intellectuals are the enlightened ones.  Religious zealots adamantly castigate those who reject their tenets as infidels.  Often, the proposal is configured so that one is either in or out.

.                                     …and some folks hate being left out

Regarding most issues, people prefer a crisp distinction…

.                                             ….dark as night

.                                               …white as snow

We are just more comfortable with a reduced number of choices, a simplified summary of things.

.                             …by habit or function we restrict the data

.                                               …we reduce

This works because we need it to be so.  Otherwise, we are overwhelmed.

Can we teach the young, conclusively that…

.                                    …the good guys are the ones in the white hats



…and you’ll know a bad man when you see one?








.              every now and then a wolf dresses up in .                                       a costume




Sometimes, the crisp division by either, or is appropriate.  The black/white categories are clearly useful.  But there are many issues we converse about, both privately and in the public square – that are not quite so simple.



Teachers who help students pass multiple choice exams offer good advice…


.          …an answer that contains the word always or never is often wrong

Always and never are the extremes.  Only a few things in life are always or never

.     …you always interrupt me

.                 …we always have to do what you want to do

.                                    …you never call me

.                                                      …he’s always up to no good

.                                                                              …she never forgets

The bell curve is useful for visualizing how rare never and always are.  They call it the extreme for a reason…it seldom happens…it is uncommon.  Most things fall between the two lines…and the area between the lines is gray.  Shades of gray that span from white to black.

Words like sometimes, frequently and usually are better choices.

Nothing is more essential, in pursuit of the bonum publicum – than credible, accurate, factual and honest information contributed for consideration of the issues.





Unfortunately, there is habitual distortion.





Questions deserve answers.

.                            …but answers might best be offered carefully

I am keenly aware of the constant exchange among humans, in conversations, lectures…in every setting we find ourselves in – this question and answer thingy…

Children both expect and offer answers promptly…and they ask about everything under the sun.

Grown-ups do too…


.        Religion.

.              Health care.

.                          Stem cells.

.                                      Flu shots.

.                                                Poverty.

.                                                           Whales.

Wonder begets questions.  It is good that we think.

Little Calvin comes home after his first day at school…he’s a bit disturbed.

“…give it to me straight mom, Jeremy says there’s no such thing as Santa Claus, the tooth fairy AND the Easter bunny…what’s the deal???”

.                           What do you say to your innocent young boy?

For the sake of the bonum publicum

.                                                         lie…

.                        (after all, an occasional white lie has never hurt anyone)



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