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I often say that very little in life is black or white to me but a (pardon the phrase) shade of gray. Yes, of course, certain things are very clear.
Murder is wrong. So is assault, physical or sexual. As is pedophilia, abuse, racism, and anything that violates the rights, consent, and physical person of another human being. We can all make lists, ad nauseam, of things we can say for certain are right or wrong.
But so many more things are dependent. They depend upon the circumstances, our past, the time of day, the weather, the direction the wind blows.
Gender, sexuality, and kink is a spectrum. There is no right or wrong.
There is no single way to be a top or Dominant, a bottom or submissive.
We have no one way to communicate or even to consent. You might say “Yes” and I may nod my head or give John Brownstone a certain grin or or or or…
We all do many of the same things different from the people around us.
It’s overused phrase, but we are all unique at some level. I understand the thinking that if everyone is unique then none of us are. But that’s just another oversimplification. Black and white is too simple, too. We’re neither all the same nor all completely different from anyone else.
Human beings and the lives we lead are way too complex for such simple explanations. Yes, we have more in common than we realize. Sometimes we see our differences as barriers we can’t cross, falsely believing we won’t understand each other. And yes, we each have our own variations. The way I do something isn’t the way you might do it, but both ways are equally valid.
I get why people like to reduce Twitter arguments, sex and BDSM, and politics and religion into binary choices. Yes or no. This or that. It feels easier to say one thing is always this and another is always that. Except it’s rarely true.
It also feels better to be on a side, preferably the winning side. Except you can’t always “win.” And what does winning mean if people are at each other’s throats, refusing to see the other side’s humanity?
We live in stressful times. Every day, there seems to be another dumpster fire in the news. Another day, another lawmaker or business trying to stifle our voices, shut us out, and make the world of sex disappear. And very real people are impacted by these things.
We all have a right to be very angry.
But even in the midst of anger and frustration, I want to understand the other side. Even if I don’t agree with it. Even when I can’t understand how another human being can believe and think the way they do. How can we ever really counter something if we don’t understand what someone thinks or how they feel? I’m not fool enough to believe that changing minds is easy, but when we assert this side is good and that side is bad, we miss so many opportunities to reach the real people in the middle who are muddling through and not thinking about the issue as much as we are.
People like me get a reputation for being wishy-washy, unwilling to take a stand, unable to “fight.”
Understanding that there’s another side doesn’t stop me from having strong opinions. Seeing the other side’s humanity doesn’t mean I agree with their views. Knowing that in another life and another set of circumstances I may believe differently doesn’t stop me from holding true to my values.
Not every choice is binary. Not everything is black and white. The world needs more nuance and subtly, even though it can be the hardest part of making an argument for what you believe.
For the record, I’m not speaking of any particular issue, Twitter argument, or set of politics. It’s more a general statement about how I see the world.