Life isn’t black and white. It’s a million gray areas.
Because we live in a world of infinite possibilities, people often disagree when addressing important moral and ethical questions. At times, we may not see–or we may not want to see–a black or white answer. So our beliefs take on areas of gray, and these beliefs may not be based on Truth. Many times they are based on a kind of warped freedom, called relativism.
In Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), Saint Pope John Paul II, writes:
Freedom negates and destroys itself, and becomes a factor leading to the destruction of others, when it no longer recognizes and respects its essential link with the truth. When freedom, out of a desire to emancipate itself from all forms of tradition and authority, shuts out even the most obvious evidence of an objective and universal truth, which is the foundation of personal and social life, then the person ends up by no longer taking as the sole and indisputable point of reference for his own choices the truth about good and evil, but only his subjective and changeable opinion or, indeed, his selfish interest and whim.
So what about the grey areas in our particular lives? Do our beliefs lack an essential link with truth?
I’m a writer, so the grey areas are a favorite theme of mine, but as a Catholic author, those themes are always linked to an absolute truth, the underpinnings of the novel. The underpinnings should enhance the literary merit of the novel by bolstering that absolute truth, not by beating the reader in the head with it.
This is an example of a novel linking to various Truth/underpinnings in a book I’ve recently completed:
That there is purpose in every human event whether it is tragic or joyous.
That opposites can indeed attract– as when one fills a void in the other.
That human beings possess a similar common eye, but also, a ‘seeing’ eye that differs in intensity, depending on the character traits each has been given. ( My novel is about a woman with a ‘seeing eye.’)
That every person is capable of stooping to the depths of evil, but also capable of great good.
That, ideally, concrete human laws are based on spiritual principles.
That fragility can be stronger than force.
That loving the unlovable takes courage.
My interest in gray areas came about when I was an Art major at Spring Hill College. I learned about the shadowing color Grey–not only as it appears in Art, but in life. Now, as a writer, I see it this way: In my characters–and in each of our lives– there are always two extreme actions–Good and Evil. To ignore them in Fiction is to ignore Truth. Think of two ends of a horizontal line. At one end is the bright white of absolute Good. At the other end is the darkness of absolute Evil. In between those ends are lighter and darker hues of the color of GRAY. ( areas of relativism.) The farther we travel from either end, it becomes more difficult to see, or find our way back to the other.
The fact is most human beings travel daily along a line like this. They travel toward one end or the other, to the light of truth, or to the frequent darkness of a stubborn relativism. But in between the two ends is a lot of area in which to turn in an opposite direction—–either a fall, or an epiphany.
This is core for a writer of Catholic Fiction—the possibility of spiritual epiphany is always present in the work, though it may not always be accomplished by a character. The difference between creating a story and real life is that the fiction writer is pretty much in control.
In our regular everyday lives, possibilities and the choices those possibilities present can be puzzling. This is why an informed conscience is necessary. And this is why we have to look for absolute truths, not relative truths, to guide us.
“Why is it so important to understand and embrace the concept of absolute truth in all areas of life? Simply because life has consequences for being wrong. Giving someone the wrong amount of a medication can kill them; having an investment manager make the wrong monetary decisions can impoverish a family; boarding the wrong plane will take you where you do not wish to go; and dealing with an unfaithful marriage partner can result in the destruction of a family and, potentially, disease.”–gotquestions.org
As Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias puts it, “The fact is, the truth matters – especially when you’re on the receiving end of a lie.”
Nowhere is this more important than in the area of faith and religion. Here on Earth, we can’t afford to ‘just get by’ using gray area reasoning. We have to form a conscience that perceives genuine truth and then use it to guide ourselves through life. Because eternity is an awfully long time to be wrong.