Is This a Black and White World?

Is This a Black and White World?

I used to see a world of absolutes where everything was black and white. It was right or wrong, this way or that way; a world without shades of gray.  I think  it was more comfortable to think of life that way. I wanted to nail things down and put everything in its place. But now I’m not so sure it’s as simple as black and white.

I thought about this recently when I was re-reading Gary Zukav’s book about Quantum Physics – The Dancing Wu Li Masters. I’m at the part where he discusses the nature of light – is it a particle or a wave? Scientists have to use black and white thinking, don’t they? They’ve got to nail things down. In this way I am (who knew?!) much like a scientist.

Quantum mechanics complicates things by saying we can’t observe an experiment without affecting the outcome. Largely, (as I understand it) we affect it by having expectations which are most often affirmed by the result. If this is true, there is no ultimate reality, only our perception of it. If we believe the world to be black and white, that’s what we’ll see and only what we’ll see.

Scott Peck, in his book The Different Drum says that where there is paradox there is truth and where paradox is missing, integrity absent as well. It makes sense to me. In all the discussions we’ve had here at Life, for instance, I don’t think we’ve ever come to complete agreement on any topic and yet each time we’ve compiled a body of information which represents a multi-faceted picture of reality.

Are there things in your life with which you are black and white, all or nothing, having no grey area at all? What do you think of the idea that all truth contains a paradox? What paradox do you embrace?

photo credit: Richard Taylor

About The Author


I love figuring it all out and finding I was wrong, changing my mind, learning that I can get excited again about something I thought I was moving away from; changing life-long habits. Mostly I love my husband and my children; watching us all grow through the changes of life, family reunions and celebrations with a good bottle of port and a shrimp ring.