Living In Gray: The Difficult Realization That The World Is Not Black And White

July 14, 2017

Until very recently, despite any other confusion in my life, I always firmly held onto one belief -- the world is made up of two types of people: waffle people and pancake people.


Photo: Mae Mu on Unsplash  


As ridiculous as it may sound, this belief has created an air of tension and ridicule around many of my brunch endeavors. Despite knowing the debate that which undoubtedly accompany my burning inquiry of “waffles or pancakes?” I cannot refrain from asking. However, my frustration coupled with this question does not lie in the answer of my breakfast companion; instead, it lies in their lack thereof.


After popping the big question, I usually wait with baited breath, praying that my date will have the decency to choose a side in the deep-rooted debate and not have the audacity to utter the two words that will drive me over the edge: “Either or.”

 Photo: Olena Sergienko on Unsplash 


For a long time, I could not wrap my head around the fact that people could so adamantly refuse to choose sides and claim to lie in this middle, or more popularly referred to as “gray,” area. This irritation of mine did not only apply to the infamous breakfast food debacle, but any controversial topic. It baffled me how people could not have strong opinions on the subjects that created the wildly provocative stories that dominated the media. The only thing that baffled me more was when I was one of these people myself.


As a person who has an opinion on everything from IKEA furniture to universalized healthcare, I was accustomed to seeing the world in black in white, good and bad, right and wrong. It was only when I fell into the dreaded “gray” area I so resented that I realized that this commonly held view of the world greatly contributed to the negative nature of our media and in turn, our society.


Seeing black and white in a fundamentally gray world gives people an easy way out to the difficult questions in life. This is the cause of the name-calling and finger-pointing that currently dominates our modern media; as people feel the need to group people into categories to make sense of complex issues, entire populations are wrongly branded and turned against. Similarly, issues such as #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter are quickly labelled as being on the right or wrong side of history when there are valid points to both arguments.


When we see the world in black and white, we fail to see the nuances that make up complex issues. We fail to differentiate between true injustice and true justice, pitting ourselves against one another in the process. In order to actually solve the issues we so passionately discuss at the dinner table, we need to be able to see all perspectives.


There are more than just pancake people and waffle people. There are french toast people, breakfast sandwich people, english muffin and egg people, and everything in between. It’s time to see the gray.


Zoya Wazir is a seventeen-year-old Muslim-American with a deep rooted passion for social activism and writing. She plans to double major in Journalism and Political Science in order to work toward achieving the change she wishes to see in the American media. In her fleeting free time, she also likes to create art, read celebrity autobiographies, and binge-watch Bollywood movies. 

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