In these first few days of 2020 I have been thinking about the complexities of life. Maybe it is a sign that I’m getting older — but it is a sign I like to think that I am getting wiser. And wisdom, after all, supposedly comes with age.
How quick are we to judge things as simply being black or white. What is or what isn’t. What’s good and what’s bad.
But life isn’t like that.
In the news, we hear of people being described in simple terms, good or bad. Or philosophies as being good or evil. And the older I get, the more I believe those terms are more akin. No, life is full of colour and there are many, many shades of grey — more than those fifty so famously put into salacious sentences during the years of the Twenty Teens. Those terms are now, I believe, part of that fake news syndrome that, by its very nature, labels events are simply true or false.
There is a danger that extremists who believe in their cause of good or evil, truth or falsehood, light and darkness, will unleash forces that will have repercussions on too many in too many places for too much time to come
Life isn’t like that, a list of truths of falsehoods that either are or are not, where the answer is either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.
Gaelic is an interesting language. There is no word for ‘yes’ and none for ‘no’. Instead the answer is more nuanced.
Is the sky blue? In English, the answer would be ‘yes’. In Gaelic, the answer is ‘it is’. The difference is subtle, but speaks to the complexities of life. ‘Yes’ is far more definitive than ‘it is’, which seems to allow for other colours and clouds that add to the dimensions of the skies above our heads.
And isn’t life like that too — so many dimensions that complicate our families, our homes, where we live and how we react with one another.
Families are such an example. We may have very distinct opinions that colour our judgements in the most definitive of fashions — but there’s always room for compromise, for giving and taking, not being so black and white. The same holds true with those we work with. And the same holds true when it comes to the complexities of international relations — there can be no black and white, no extremes, no wholly good, no fully evil.
There are events unfolding now in these first days of this new decade that are a cause for worry. Tensions are escalating, emotions are running high. And there is a danger that extremists who believe in their cause of good or evil, truth or falsehood, light and darkness, will unleash forces that will have repercussions on too many in too many places for too much time to come.
No, now is the time when we must look at the complexities and see commonalities between us, not differences.
It is far too easy to act rashly than to think sensibly.
As impulsive teens, we seek quick and simple fixes to problems, often choosing the wrong path in our search for justice or right. And too often those impulses only exacerbate bad situations, making them worse.
If there is one truth that is universal, it is that time itself is a great healer — and that is a wisdom that only comes with time. Quick fixes are temporary and only often make a bad situation worse.
In time, things don’t look so bad. The effects aren’t as bad as we first judge them. Or, as someone far wiser once said, things always look better in a new dawn. What seems to be in a bad light now looks a lot different when passed through the prism of time.
A rainbow is a dark cloud seen through the sky’s prism.