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Shades of Gray

April 21, 2011

Rubbing at the rising goose egg on his forehead, his brow only a moment ago furrowed in pain, he taunts her, pulling faces and waving the same toy she hit him with just out of her reach. She scowls at him, clearly furious with his deliberate mockery. They each keep a wary eye on their mother, who pays them no attention after having sharply smacked the girl and wrenched the boy away, to a seat across the aisle, her nails digging into the flesh of his upper arm.

They both know the game they are playing is forbidden, that they risk further punishment, and yet I can see the depravity of mankind clearly reflected in their eyes as they glare at one another, just out of reach, daring each other to react, held back both only by fear. No morality here, only the harsh consequences associated with raw actions. There seems to be no deeper understanding of right and wrong.

This leaves me to wonder when I became such an expert on right and wrong, and whether any of us are truly moral, or if we’re all just acting on fear of a greater abuse than that which we’re capable of inflicting on others being acted out upon us. Because isn’t morality all just shades of gray? Nothing is ever black and white, at least not while you’re in the thick of it.

I know that kissing another person while you are married is wrong. Almost everyone would say that it is. And most people would say that marrying someone who you don’t love is also wrong. But what about after that? Is it wrong to leave? Is it wrong to want to be happy? Is it wrong to avoid a situation that makes you uncomfortable? Is it wrong to avoid an argument? What if you spend not just a few hours avoiding an argument, but a few months? Does that change whether it’s wrong or not? Maybe.

Life is gray. A lot of gray “maybes” can add up though, and turn into something really bad, and can end up hurting a lot of people – even oneself.

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