“Do you see in black and white or in shades of grey?”

This was a question that my informant asked his girlfriend Clarissa when they first began dating.  After getting divorced, Robert began to date again.  He is very particular in the women that he likes, and thought this question was a good determining factor of a woman’s thinking process.  A person that sees in black and white is someone that is very rigid in his or her thoughts.  For example, an extremely religious person would be someone that sees in black and white.  There would be no shades of grey because it would be like reading from the bible and not having any varying thoughts from what it said.  According to Robert, “someone that can see in shades of grey is someone that would read the bible, interpret its words, and maybe throw some of what the Buddhists have to say.”  They are more flexible in their thinking, rather than having opinions that are set in stone.  He believes that seeing in shades of grey is a very healthy way of thinking.  My informant remembers this proverb and considers it to be very important in his life because he likes to use it as a screening process when he was on the dating scene.  Rather than being a literal question, it was more of a thought that you could use when evaluating a person.  He would never really ask the question, he would use it as more of a guideline.  Toward the end of his relationship with Clarissa, he realized that she saw mostly in black and white, was very stubborn, and had opinions she was not ever willing to discuss.

This article of folklore is important to me as well.  I consider myself to be a very opinionated person, however I am always willing to consider all aspects of a situation before creating my own opinion.  Therefore, I believe that I see in shades of grey.  I was taken aback when I heard my dad say this proverb, and it really made me think and evaluate it.  I know many people that see in black and white, but in a world as culturally diverse as our own, a person must be able to read between the lines, interpret things, and be open minded.  In order to create, establish, and maintain genuine relationships, it is vital that one can see in shades of grey because there is no way you will always agree with the opinions of others, you must be flexible in your thoughts.  Additionally, one must work toward having a balance between seeing in shades of grey and black and white.  In my opinion, it is not good to be extreme on either end of the spectrum, meaning a pushover compared to someone extremely stubborn.