The Truth is Not Black, White, or Grey…
What do you think? Is truth as clear as black and white, or is it grey and less defined? Should we maintain black and white thinking, or is life too complex for that? We’ll get to this in a moment.
I am planning on focusing on colors, color theory, and color psychology for the next several posts.
Colors are, understatedly, such a beautiful and emotion-filled thing, and i believe that understanding and getting a feel for our own personal thoughts about them, as well as other perspectives, will be core to our journey in analyzing the stories told through fashion.
The following writing is a short essay i wrote in a college class that illustrates the complexities of truth using color as an analogy. I thought maybe it could be some interesting food for thought and discussion before we delve into this series on color.
What is Black and White Thinking?
Black and white thinking, or splitting, is the idea of seeing things in one way, either good or bad, right or wrong, with no other possibilities. It’s thinking in absolutes and extremes. It’s a mental process that people use to try to simplify the world around them.
Some people think that black and white thinking is healthy because it helps them to make decisions quickly. Others argue that this type of thinking can be harmful because it prevents them from seeing all the possible angles to a sceranio, or solutions to a problem.
When we see the truth as black or white, It can lead us to get stuck in mindsets that may not actually be healthy or beneficial to us. It can also lead us to judge people for having other ideas…Even if their ideas are just as valid as our own. Worse yet, it can cause us to judge people as valuable or not. It can do a lot of damage.
The black and white thinker does not see the world in any other way. They may think that good people are always good and bad people are always bad. They may also believe that it’s impossible for a person to be both good and bad at the same time, or to be good but sometimes do bad things. You’re perfect or you’re not.
Spectrum of Truth – An Essay Challenging Black and White Thinking and Grey Thinking:
How dull it is to see reality only as black or white; and how faint it is if it’s merely seen in multiple shades of grey. Truth cannot be fairly represented in either. There is rarely a stark, contrasting clarity of right versus wrong, as is seen in black versus white. But the ambiguity of grey, and attitude of “anything goes”, is lacking as well.
Life consists of a vivid variegation of color. A rainbow.
I will be using red for consistency in this example:
Red can never be blue–call it “blue” all you like, but it will not change to a shorter wavelength. The only commonality those two colors even share is that they are colors, refracted from light.
Red has many hues, and my preferred version of it may be burgundy while yours may be crimson–both are still a beautiful red. In Spanish, they call it “rojo”, French: “rouge”, Mandarin: “红色的” (“Hóngsè de”), but we’re still talking about the same color.
But navy, cyan and azure are not options under the category of red. Neither are “azul”, “bleu” and “蓝色的” (“lánsè de”).
Burgundy is a form of red and cannot exist in separation from it.
And burgundy isn’t crimson, maroon or pink, even if it’s misunderstood to be since they are all similar and fall under the category of red. It’s its own variety of red, with its own lovely differences that set it apart from other varieties.
I believe the same is all so when it comes to truth: if it is true, you cannot truthfully say that it isn’t; if it’s not true, you can’t truthfully say it is.
But truth also varies based on context and condition and makes sense in connection to that context; and what’s right in your context may not be right in another; But within that context, it still is what it is.
Green contrasts red as its opposite.
Purple is not red, but red is found in it; so purple is partly red. And red is no longer truly red if mixed with blue. Neither is purple fully purple if lacking blue or red.
Similarly, things true and things untrue also have connection to each other. Things untrue cannot exist without truth first being established. Lies oppose the truth.
Some things can be true in part but not in whole. And at the same time, things considered true can be tainted by what isn’t true–if something isn’t fully true, whether it lacks truth or contains lies, how can it be called true?
Understanding things untrue can help us understand what is true.
Reality is most beautiful when we embrace and enjoy the diversity and vividity it offers. Life is better in color. And truth is most beautiful when sought out to see it for what it is.
- Truth is absolute in and of itself (red is red).
So truth is not ambiguous (red can never be blue).
Truth has detail and can have variety within the right context (red has many hues–could be burgundy, crimson, maroon, even pink. And the same colors can be spoken of across the world in various languages.)
So truth isn’t simple and can be subjective with various options, but the options can’t clash with the context (red isn’t the only red, but cyan, navy and azure are not red).
Subjective truth is coherent with its context (burgundy is red).
Subjective truth is true to itself (burgundy is burgundy).
So, subjective truth can’t rely solely on perception–which can be confused to where it’s true that somebody sees something some way, but untrue that it IS as they believe, even if it’s close (burgundy is not maroon).
Truth can sometimes be found in things untrue (purple isn’t red, but contains it).
Things untrue change the quality of things claimed to be true if they are connected (red is no longer fully red, but purple, if mixed with blue).
- Lies come from truth as an inverted, opposite version (green is the opposite of red).
What do you think?
Can truth be thought of as a rainbow of various ideas?
My hope is that as we explore our own ideas about fashion and color, we will see and value the beautiful subjective truth in each other’s opinions. While also maybe finding deeper, universally shared truths that we can apply to how we wear what we wear.