shades of gray

white-black gray black-white

“Who am I to judge?” you might ask.

In this work, I encounter some pretty screwed-up family systems that lead me to do just that.

This has nothing to do with whether I like a certain family member or not. Some of the most engaging people I’ve encountered are the worst parents I know. Their actions and decisions have led to consequences, unintended and otherwise, of the worst  kinds.

Who am I to judge? Everyone makes mistakes.

I will never forget an answer to a question I’d asked Derek King early in our relationship. It was, at first blush, very off-putting—shocking, really. But ultimately it was very deep.

“What kind of guy is Ricky Chavis?” I asked him.

“Very much like you,” he answered.

I had come to despise everything about the guy, and here was Derek challenging that black-and-white view with one which was gray and embraced the complexity of reality. Even a person whose “Ick” quotient was way off the chart is someone who was, in some ways, just like me.

This began to eat at me, and I determined that it was important to understand and, as much as possible, respect where everyone was coming from who might be involved in a murder of a family member. Respect was essential to understanding.

I will never forget an encounter with a former reader and commentator who was incensed that I had noticed a few of this blogsite’s visitors had come from a pedophilia website, and that I had urged our readers to be respectful if other visitors should any self-indentify themselves as pedophiles. They didn’t at the time, but this visitor was concerned that government snoops would discover that she had even visited a website where such a suggestion was made and hold it against her.

As near as I could tell, she hung on as a commenter for a short time after our conversation, then fell off the vine. I enjoyed her comments—they really got me thinking—but I wasn’t about to accept her contention that any areas of inquiry or knowledge should be considered off-limits. She seemed to be saying that we should make this blogsite inhospitable to anyone whose ideas might be considered objectionable to any of the government’s watchdogs.

Not my idea of anything useful or having any integrity. I don’t need to condone something in order to understand it. But to understanding why some kids murder the adults in their lives is essential to helping them.

Where I tend to draw a line in the sand is around the issue of self-responsibility. Some adults refuse to shoulder the most basic responsibilities for their actions with respect to the young people in their lives. The worst among them try to transfer the guilt to others, sometimes even onto people like me who merely take an interest in their kids and their actions.

As I’ve told you before, I have been the object of lawsuits and death-threats for delving into matters which some parents have found objectionable. Some readers have expressed the view that sometimes I am too outspoken. The reactions of some parents towards me have been violent.

They only make sense when viewed as an effort to shed self-responsibility in some respect or another.

But who am I to judge?


Groove of the Day

Listen to The Monkees performing “Shades Of Gray”


1 Response to “shades of gray”

  1. March 9, 2014 at 5:44 am

    Not surprised you have been attacked. Most people find it easier (if not easy) to deal with things if they think no one knows. We all have our demons, but as long as they can be kept under a bed, as long as we think no one notices, we can convince ourselves nothing is wrong. We also like to create patterns of our beliefs, on which we base our existance. So going against those beliefs or letting our demons out is like taking a bottom piece from a house of cards, shaking the very foundations of our lives. And the first to blame is the “whistleblower”. We ourselves come last. Self-protection is a powerful instinct and it’s in our nature to first deny, then find excuses and blame it on others. As if without the whistleblower nothing is wrong and everything we’ve ever done was indeed right. Still, shouldn’t we as adults be able to rise above our basic instincts? Does it make more of a conscious decision?

    As for the judging part, I think it is not a person or a character that we really judge. Not even the actions taken. It is the consequences. And yes, if the consequences are bad, we each have responsibility to make things good. Or at least better. I can see Paul Henry doing just that. He is not denying, he is not blaming others. He can never make things good, but he is going the incredible distance to make them even a single notch better. I don’t think all adults I know put together would have that strength. And that’s why he’s such an inspiration. We have so much to learn from children. They really humble us every single day. Perhaps that is why we treat them so badly? Because they take away our excuses?

    No one can be judged for who he is. And that’s where the shades of gray really reside. But we all must be judged (and first by ourselves) for the consequences we cause. Especially to children, as they will create the patterns of the future.

    P.S. I do not believe there is such thing as “too outspoken”. And to me it actually feels like you’re holding back quite a lot. Then again, who am I to judge…? 🙂

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