There are a few things that are clearly either black or white. But very few.

Much of daily life – from personal relationship to professional decision – is defined based on perspective.

Thursday many of us will observe the holiday tradition that combines turkey and the National Football League. We’ll likely witness the blurry line between legal defense and illegal pass interference. Or the one that separates a legal hit from a suspension-worthy blow to the head. Even with perspective afforded by instant replay, definitions often appear inexact.

While a contest demands rules and parameters, the problematic nature of issuing absolutes is rarely more clear than when cooperation, collaboration, relationship or community are among the goals.

These days, at least from my perspective (skewed as it admittedly is), the rhetoric seems laden with the belief that even complex issues are black and white — that virtually everything is about red or blue.

Once collegial debates have deteriorated into strident contests with one goal – to win. At all costs. The exploration of aspirations – once the stuff from which shared vision was born — has become platform for litmus testing.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a good debate. Ours was a home where mom and dad would articulate positions they did not believe in, partially to teach youngsters in the room to think; partially because we all enjoyed the sport of debate.

The Demise of Dialogue

When I did time in radio, conversations around sex, religion and politics were the staple for no reason other than these topics were certain to engage people from opposite ends of a spectrum. And while this strategy insured lively conversation, there was little real dialogue. Each was out, first to entertain, and then to convert.

Perhaps it is entertaining. Not many of us are open to conversion.

In my experience at least, too many conversations have become little more than contests consistently fought to a draw.

I’m ready for a truce. Not every discussion of value must break down to either a liberal or conservative position. Not every issue is defined by red or blue philosophy.

Lines drawn in the sand, however clear and deep when originally cast, are easily obscured. Even erased. A gust of wind or the shuffling of real life can create new lines…in an instant. What becomes of our posturing then?

A Thankful Perespective

One of the things I value most about the season that is upon us in the United States is that it affords a moment for perspective realignment. For the next few weeks it seems easier to focus on the very few things that are, in my view, black and white.

  • Nothing outlasts real relationship. Disproportionate investment of time, energy and emotion here is the mistake to make;
  • It is in giving that we receive. I offer this not as a political, theological or social argument; it is born of personal experience. Call it what you will.

If you’re reading this post, chances are we have some things in common – not the least of which is we have much for which to be thankful. Conversations that spring from this perspective might just give rise to healthy, productive dialogue in coming days and weeks. Maybe even progress, and vision.

Happy Thanksgiving!