Black or White or Baby, I love the Grey

As the Central Elections near, media bedlam has begun. There is not a day that goes by without mudslinging being reported. It feels like watching Big Boss play out on a grander stage with a greater viewership and the progress of the nation at stake (not that I’ve seen the show but you know what I’m talking about). This has clearly drawn a lot of flak from the general public “We want politicians to play with a straight bat!” Watching Rahul Gandhi muddling through his protracted lecture at CII, in front of industry stalwarts, has got me thinking, is it so hard to just be honest or just say nothing at all? Is it a necessity to mince words or structure them into long-winded sentences that offer no real meaning?

I began watching South Park approximately 3 years back and right out of the blocks I fell in love with it. The humour was sharp and clever; it chronicled issues that everyone loved discussing and it also had that quirky tomfoolery that everyone enjoys in moderation. It also takes clever jabs at celebrities who have a consuetude of doing or saying stupid things. The creators of the show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, are absolute legends. They are intelligent and well-read with certain principles that never change in the face of pressure from the public or even when death threats are received (like they got from Al Qaeda if I’m not wrong). As their brain child borders on the semi-tasteful, it is important they try to be as objective as possible on the various narratives they chronicle. So they firmly believe in the principle “It’s all OK or nothing is OK. There is only black and white.” But is it really that simple?

Humans are intellectuals; cerebral creatures with ever changing needs and desires. We’ve navigated the Great Depression, 2 World Wars, numerous freedom struggles and multitudes of protests and take-overs, all just in the span of the last 100 years. As much as I’d like to think that these were successfully started or successfully ended by straight-forward decisions which were akin to flipping a switch, we all know that this isn’t the case. These situations are all struggles and any struggle demands a stratified and conscientious approach to resolve it. We’re all involved in a struggle of some sort in our daily lives, be it with your boss or your co-workers, your clients, your house, your friends, your better half, whatever it is. I can pretty much guarantee that you’re not giving a straight-forward yes or no; black or white decision to all those situations(in some cases any). Im sure we’d all love to give straight forward answers but it’s a lot more complex than that. Isnt it a bit hypocritical that we expect politicians to do the same? Time to play devil’s advocate here.

I have a theory behind the same. There are two things that annoy people, One is things that have a fairly large magnitude where it will impact the lives of many – being dodged; and two lying or dodging something inconsequential where you might as well be honest about. If we analyse most cases where people get annoyed about the grey area, it’s because it falls in either of the above buckets. While in reality the grey area has more consequences than one end of the spectrum, we are still receptive to things happening between that bandwidth. When your friends tell you that they will ‘Try to make it’ and don’t make it, you’re annoyed because you know they could have and probably should have said they wouldn’t be able to, so that you could have planned your time better. Similarly, when politicians avoid serious questions about the economy and functioning of the government and instead talk about bee hives and elephants, it irks you to no end as there is a dire lack of clarity on such an important subject.

I’m no soothsayer.  I don’t claim to be the philosopher who will be able answer all these questions, or the one who will bring balance to the force. I only offer my two cents and I personally believe it comes down to a matter of ego, which quite frankly is natural. Those Umms, errs and maybes are all effectively excuses and these excuses are an insult to the intelligence of the person on the receiving end of it.

Stick to being sensible on when you want to use the grey area. It’s not unacceptable at all, it’s very subjective and is a tool that should be used appropriately and only when the situation absolutely demands it. So let’s try to cut the nonsense out and keep things simple.



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