Musings from the Middleground

Grey.

The color of the sky on a rainy day. The color of aged hair. The color of Gandalf before his return.

Grey.

The color of humanity.

Nothing is black and white. Not in this complex world.

I recently saw Star Wars: Rogue One, and as odd as it sounds it touched on thoughts that had been weighing on my mind. Why do we categorize people and things into boxes they don’t quite fit in? Good or bad. Hero or villain. It’s not that simple.

People aren’t perfect. People are flawed. People are complex. And especially, everyone is coming from a different point of reference.

In Rogue One the “good guys” weren’t completely innocent. Some of the “bad guys” had no choice. Unlike so many films and media portrayals, it demonstrated a slightly more accurate reality of war than the polarizing evil vs. virtuous narrative. It acknowledged that many are just doing the best they can with what they are given. A reality of modern warfare.

Much of the media continues to polarize conflicts. A conflict of reference, one I can’t do justice to, is the current situation in Aleppo. Yes the Assad regime is reposnible for inexcusable and atrocious crimes against humanity, however some of the rebel groups backed by the US aren’t innocent themselves. For the media to try and swing the narrative to condemning the Assad regime as the “bad” and the Rebels as the “good” is an injustice to the citizens trying to navigate and survive in the divided and complexly dangerous reality honest civilians live in. It’s a simplification of their plight. The plight where 100,000 people’s lives are at risk while the international community doesn’t guarentee their safe exit, the plight of people who must make heartbreaking decisions many can never grasp.

We blindly condemn any member of a terrorist organization, without knowing why they participate. Yes, hate is never the answer. Yes, blind violence is inexcusable. Nor do most resort to these. But could you say, that if you saw your relatives killed in front of you by  US military weapons that you wouldn’t be triggered? Would you be tempted to take up arms?

We put people like Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King Jr. on pedestals for the good they did, meanwhile they commited questionable deeds in their personal life. The good they did stands alone, strong and outright amazing. Changing the world for the better. I am in no way saying their invirtous deeds overshadow the good, I am simply reminding that as humans, they weren’t completely innocent. They caused pain as well.

Who is a hero and who is a villain is dependent on your point of view. Just because someone opposes your view doesn’t mean they are “bad”. Sure if your view is that other people are “less than”, and won’t be changed due to new experiences and information, than that is inexcusable. Many who oppose you, however, are just doing what they believe is best with what they have.

Polarization is dangerous. Idealization is dangerous. It leads to seeing others as the “enemy” when in fact they are not too different from yourself. Stop seeing people black and white and see them as they truely are- flawed individuals trying to survive in this world, just like you.

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