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Shades of grey

  • 05 February 2024
  Recently I had my annual eyesight examination. Nothing to report except after a life-time of appalling eyesight the long-sightedness that comes with ageing is incrementally improving my short-sightedness. If this keeps up, I’m going to die with 20-20 vision. But it doesn’t matter whether I’m wearing glasses or not, I am finding that in a world of black and white opinions, the colour on my horizon is often grey.

It’s not that I don’t have strong and unmovable opinions – I do, and usually on things of no consequence. However, with large moral and ethical questions, I find myself slipping and sliding along a continuum of always yes to definitely no, and never fully landing on either.

Often, I will find myself agreeing with a writer or speaker until they say something that contradicts my world view and then I’m stuck in this land of ‘on one hand’ and ‘then again, on the other’.

This was apparent while studying sociological subjects at university. For example, one subject posited gender as a social construct ­– something that could be put off and on again like a piece of clothing. Understandable to a point but I could not ignore the part biology plays. Another considered evolutionary biology and, at the risk of over-simplifying and misrepresenting this topic, its premise was that our genes were paramount. Altruism, society and God were of no account. While both subjects opened new ways of thinking, my life experiences kept me from following them to their ultra ends.

My moral code/ethics is informed by the Ten Commandments but I find that in some circumstances my response to breaches of those commandments is not clear cut.


'I cannot join marches to protest the terror in Gaza because I remember what came before and I cannot join marches to protest the horror of what occurred to Israelis at that music festival, and what is occurring to the hostages still, because I see what has come after.'  

The issue I’m struggling with currently is what the media are calling the war in Gaza. The 7 October murderous attacks on innocent Israelis enjoying a music festival was heinous. It was a moral horror that demands universal condemnation. The perpetrators and Hamas, the group behind it, deserve all appropriate legal repercussions.

But the bombing, death and injury, displacement and starvation of millions of Palestinians in a quest to root out a terrorist organisation whose leadership is most likely not in Gaza is also a