Two or three times a year my wife and I go camping with my brother and his wife.
My brother is a hard-right conservative Bush lover, and I'm a hard left liberal Bush hater.
Since we both grew up in the same family; how my own brother turned out that way, I'll never know. I'm sure he's asking the same thing about me!
Anyway, we all sit around the campfire, and after a few drinks, all hell breaks loose when we start arguing about politics. The next morning, all is well and we're having fun hiking or fishing, or whatever, with no more talk about politics.
My brother sees things like Bush does, in terms of extremes with no middle ground: "good vs. evil", "right vs. wrong", "with us or against us", "talk or no talk" with adversaries, etc. These are examples of seeing the world in terms of "black and white".
Perhaps a lack of cognitive development causes "black and white thinking"? Is it a reflection of one being stuck in one's childhood where things seemed, oh so simple? I don't know.
Follow me below for more on "black and white" and "shades of gray" thinking.
To people who see the world in terms of black and white, "shades of gray" are either ignored, rejected, incomprehensible to them, or not ever thought of in the first place. And that worldview just drives me nuts, because I don't think that way.
So I was very intrigued by Newsweek editor Jon Meacham's The Editor's Desk column in the August 18/August 25 double issue of Newsweek where he talks about seeing the world in terms of "black and white" and "shades of gray".
The context for Jon Meacham's comment were in regard to the Newsweek cover story by Fareed Zakaria, titled "What Bush Got Right".
Speaking of Fareed Zakaria's "nuanced view of what the 43rd president has actually done" Jon Meacham said...
In theory, liberals—who tend to pride themselves on being more intellectually sophisticated and open to evidence than conservatives—should be very open to such an exercise. Detecting shades of gray in a world dominated by efforts to cast conflicts and questions in black and white requires both common sense and a willingness to engage reality as it is, not as we wish it to be.
Fareed Zakaria's cover story went on to describe what Bush has actually done. And it was in terms of "shades of gray".
As much as I hate Bush's policies, my hat is off to both Jon Meacham and Fareed Zakaria for presenting an enlightening sense of "grayness", shall we say, in a world as Jon Meacham says, is dominated by black and white.
Is black and white the dominate worldview in the U.S.?