The illusion of black-and-white thinking

black and white thinking

This kind of illustrates the point in its own subtle way.

In our world, it’s extremely easy to think in terms of black and white, usually in terms of “good” or “evil”. In all cases, it’s to do with morality. While it’s the easiest way to think of morality, it’s also the completely wrong way.

In reality, the world is a palette of different of beliefs. Unfortunately, mankind has grown up with an objective, “us or them” mentality. Even Desmond Tutu was guilty of this, by virtue of the assumption that if you choose to remain neutral, you are “siding with the oppressor”.

Western morality tends to breed the mentality of “if you’re not with us, you’re against us”, but this mentality is not only blatantly false, but it can also lead to vicious mob mentality, which is something that should have died many years ago. When you think in black and white, you’re basically refusing to see anyone’s viewpoint but your own, and providing yourself with an excuse to stop thinking.

The reason why black-and-white morality is an excuse to stop thinking is because you’re basically presented with a dilemma where one choice sounds better than another. Usually, this dilemma is presented by someone who wants you to join his/her side. This can be seen being used by politicians seeking your vote, or religious people trying to convert you to their faith. They will all want to eliminate the middle ground so that you don’t have to think about your choice.

Of course, I mainly oppose black-and-thinking because I don’t want to just pick a side for no good reason. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, both sides have a hidden agenda that they might use you in order to achieve. This is why I generally don’t try and align myself any particular side, especially when it comes to politics.

However, I’m much more concerned about when black-and-white thinking feeds into mob mentality, because this is how an “us or them” mentality can justify violence and hatred. This is when a society throws reason to the curb, and acts purely on outrage because they feel they have an obligation to heal a great wound in society, as though everything was perfect before. Whenever this happens, we in society have chosen to not think on their own, and are instead just going with the group, which is exactly what the establishment would want.

The truth not everything can be seen as all good or all bad. The real world is actually a lot more colourful than that, and to define your own beliefs requires you to see every point of view to make an informed decision. Finally, I think that society cannot truly evolve until we learn to abandon the black-and-white thinking that has dogged our culture for the past few millennia.

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