Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Black and White

Why the black and white look?
It's clean, it's simple. It reminds me of the newspapers I have worked with over the years.
Mostly, though, it's my personality.
I see the world as black or white with only a few shades of grey.
This isn't something I'm necessarily proud of but after 50 years on the planet I'm pretty sure I know myself and know how I think.
To me, the answer to everything is clear - it's either right or it's wrong; it's good or it's bad; it's fair or it's unfair. Full stop.
I am far from perfect. Far, far from it. This black and white thinking is hard for a lot of people to take. My blood boils fast.
I'm also judgemental. Over the years I have made many mistakes, but I have learned from all of them. This crystallization, this boiling down of the bad things in my character has made me who I am now. Some may disagree, and they are entitled to their opinion, of course, but I am a good person. I see myself as a white knight, defender of the common man, upholder of good in the battle against evil. (Doesn't THAT sound crazy?) I admire Sally Fields' character in Norma Rae – imperfect strength in the face of adversity; grubbiness with a shining heart.
I will always take the side of the underdog. I will always have sympathy for the downtrodden.
There is fair and there is unfair and there is nothing in between.
I got angry with a friend yesterday because she didn't see the unfairness in this situation: another friend had worked a long time with a company and had accrued a third week of vacation time. The company went bankrupt and the friend was rehired by a temp agency. He immediately lost that third week. All of the plant employees, some who had been with the company all their working lives and had accrued up to five weeks of vacation, went back to two weeks. I said, this wasn't fair. That they had earned it and then lost it. My friend said it was perfectly fair - they were lucky to have their jobs.
Yes, they're lucky to still have their jobs.
But that doesn't mean what happened to them is fair.
To me, fairness is like karma. If you have done your share, if you've been a good person, if you've worked hard to earn things like vacation time, the universe ought to repay you in kind. When that doesn't happen; when you lose your vacation, when you get cancer, when your husband leaves you, when you get downsized, whatever – it just isn't fair.
I know. Life sucks that way. The universe doesn't mete out fairness. The real world just "is."
Still, a lot of these sucky things are delivered at the hands of human beings, not the universe. It was people who decided to cut our friend's vacation time. People who downsize companies and ruin people's lives. People cheat on their spouses and destroy families.
People are the reason I believe in fairness.
If everyone decided to treat their fellow human beings fairly, the world would be a fairer place.
Fairness is what I strive for.
Fairness is what we all should strive for.
Screw real world thinking – this is the excuse we use to hurt one another.


  1. It's when life is unfair that we hold up our heads and show what we're made of. Our strength lies in not letting lifes injustices mold our character.
    OMG the curse of being opinionated. Are you sure we weren't separated at birth?

  2. I see you as a very colourful person! Humorous, passionate, insightful and your writing ability brings even the most simple story to life and in living colour. Kind of like the scene when Dorothy opens the door to the house when she lands on Oz.
    I am with you on the unfairness issues and will take the side of the underdog every time. Therefore, black and white truly reflects your feelings right now.

  3. I see you as very colorful too, bursting with it.

    You make an important distinction between the forces of the cosmos, which are far too vast, and therefore blind, to us mere humans (sometimes there's no understanding why disease or some other misfortune strikes) and actions by people over which they have control. People are accountable for their actions, and should at least explain themselves when they do something that doesn't seem fair.

  4. Absolutely, Cathy. That last sentence: too right. Them as who think this attitude is naive, they are part of the problem, not the solution.

  5. So you really mean you see the world in black and white and red? But seriously, I know people who think in black and white, who can't see grey and nuance and I'm sorry but I can't agree with your self-assessment. I think you are all color - and being concerned with fairness and justice in the world is part of your beauty not a flaw. As Camus says, the universe is indifferent. But that doesn't mean we should be.

  6. The last part says it all. Bravo.

    This reminded me very much of a story Monsterbat told me about a bully he'd encountered. The boy took the ball from him so he didn't get a turn, and when MB protested, the bully told him, "Life's not fair." Just an excuse to be mean.

    I usually tell him that just because life isn't fair, that doesn't mean WE need to be. You put it so perfectly.

  7. As I age I have learned that fair is just a word that applies to other people.

  8. GREAT POST ... Love the new look and pssst ... I've always had a thing for Sally Field ;)

  9. Don't feel too bad, Cathy - I don't even see the shades of grey.

    Treat others the way you wanted to be treated.

  10. To me, fairness doesn't even require karma. Those who participate supply reinforcement to each other. And often, for me, it only takes the one nudge.

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