Dealing with the Grey

My new friend, Tchipakkan, just published an amazing post on her blog entitled, “Why is anyone still surprised that human beings are fallible?” It reminds me of several topics that I’ve thought about over the past few years. One of them is dealing with the “grey areas” or our humanity.

Even though I see myself as having pretty good instincts and some psychic ability, there have been numerous times when someone whom I thought I knew well would do something totally out of left field and I’d think, “Why didn’t I see that coming?”

When I was younger, I thought, in these instances, that I had been “wrong” about a person or had used poor judgment or that I was a failure as a psychic. That’s because I wanted to see people as being one way or the other, as good or evil, right or wrong, victim or aggressor.

Life would be really simple if we could place all people, places and events into piles labeled good, bad and undecided. But, NO ONE is all good or all bad and life, in terms of human relationships, is rarely simple.

One of my favorite sayings is that there’s no such thing as a one-sided coin. In the moments of being thrown off by a person’s negative actions, it’s good to take a deep breath and remember the good things about them. The good and the positive aspects of that person aren’t suddenly less real or rendered invalid because we finally got a glimpse of the other side of the coin. The good in them is really genuine and so is the bad.

Whether one is psychic or not, we have to allow people their humanity and acknowledge the grey areas. When we do this, we are less apt to be “shocked” by the actions of others or to have unrealistic expectations of someone because of their “goodness.” For all you psychics out there, you weren’t “wrong” about John or Jane, you were simply picking up on their positive attributes which aren’t suddenly meaningless or unimportant now that everyone knows that John or Jane is a human being.

Whether or not an individual is a good person who sometimes does bad things or is a bad person who sometimes does good things is a matter of opinion. Truth can be a matter of perception. I can’t tell you how many times someone in the Pagan community has “warned” me about someone else who is supposedly evil or unethical.

I took these things to heart when I was younger but I don’t anymore. Having been the victim of people’s perceptions and assumptions and the gossip generated by these, I am now cautious about causing the same harm to someone else.

As Tchipakkan said, someone’s religion doesn’t guarantee right action or make them immune to dark desires. In the end, we’re all on our own path, accountable for our own actions. A religious or spiritual community can give support but in the end, whether someone walks their talk or not depends on them.