too black and white

After narrowly escaping being made secretary of a prolife organisation last night, I managed to embroil myself in a fraught moral debate about babies born brain dead with my officemate. Highly relieved at the first of these; not so happy about the second.

One thing that kept coming up was this accusation that my position was “too black and white”. It’s not the first time she’s made this comment, but when it’s only about intense issues in linguistics it’s somehow not so hard to take.

But why should ‘being black and white’ be a problem to her? Why are people afraid of clarity and certainty? It’s hard to see the attraction of vagueness and being unsettled about important issues, beyond (if it isn’t too harsh) the escape that it gives you from thinking seriously about them.

Whether it’s points of doctrine or moral dilemmas, there always seem to be people who prefer to keep things fuzzy, undecided, and treat certainty and conviction as unattainable. Certainty might be hard to achieve: I’m sure it often is; but that doesn’t really mean that we should give up searching for it.

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