Good is white. Bad is black. The obvious connotation annoys me, but that’s not what this is about. Instead, this is about the way people make judgments. And the fact that some of us do so in terms of absolute Right and Wrong, Good and Bad. I’ll be the first to admit that such an attitude makes things easier. And the first to protest that it is a cop-out.

Easier? Hell, yes! You don’t really have to think in order to make decisions this way. You just have to glance, parse past experience (and prejudice), then make a quick judgment call. You just have to develop a set of simple rules and apply them. No muss, no fuss, no bother.

Of course, that implies that all situations, and all people involved in them, are the same. That all motivations and objectives are the same. Each of us travels a different path towards a different goal. Each of us knows things that the rest of us do not. And every individual situation, if it involves people, is at least subtly different from any other.

A cop-out? Of course! The easy way out is usually a cop-out. Don’t think about it or let yourself *feel*! Don’t pay any attention to the wants and needs of others! You know what’s right for them! Don’t make yourself work to get through life! Go ahead, just coast, man.

Sorry. If you have mental and ethical pulses, you can’t and won’t do that. First you take a look at the situation and the people. Then you take a look at yourself. Then you consider your past and the futures of the people involved. Then you formulate a tentative goal and work towards it, paying attention as you go to the changing shades of grey.

Because shades of grey is the true name of the game we play every day in deadly earnest. Our lives are filled with the shades of grey between the odious blacks and whites at the extremes of everything. Human beings are analog, not digital. There is an infinite variation in the shades of grey that we can perceive. All that we have to do is pay attention and consider the wants and needs of others.

In fact, those boundless variations are not all grey. White is the absence of all color, black is the combination of all color. Next time you think of shades of grey, think of the entire spectrum that implies, especially in the human analog view. If that doesn’t make you feel a little bit humble, maybe you should start reading again at the top.

There is a place for a little black and white. However, it’s purely internal and there are some requirements. First, you have to do your homework. You have to *know* who you are and why. You must then develop a *complete* set of rules about your behavior and be always willing to review those rules and revise them. Situations change. The world changes around you. Hell, *you* change. So pay attention, all the time, okay?

Once you’ve done all that, you may find that you have some very dark blacks and some very light whites in your behavior kit. Or maybe not. But if you find some of those, feel free to apply them. To yourself. To only yourself. Never, never directly to anyone or anything else. Your right to vigorously apply your rules ends at your own skin. Period.