As I have mentioned previously, my classes have been studying The Crucible. They completed essays under exam conditions and I have now completed marking. Their responses ran the gambit, as most classes do.
One task question involved discussing the fact that Puritan Society reduced everything to black and white, with no shades of grey in between. With the confidence of youth, or maybe just due to lack of critical thinking and analysis, most of the students argued that yes indeed, values and attitudes were reduced to black and white, and there was no allowance for any areas of grey in between. Only two argued for the areas of grey.
Another element that I noticed that I was continuously writing the comment “do not make absolute comments”. No, not everyone thinks that way, behaves that way.
Now, obviously this is an issue that Miller wanted his audience and American society of the 1950s to reflect upon. We needed to learn the lesson.
In today’s society, I fear that we still haven’t learnt the lesson. We still think and act in absolutes and reduce issues to black and white. All Muslims are terrorists. All Greeks oppose austerity measures. Refugees are here to take our jobs. The list is a long one.
Recent events in politics, here in Australia and other countries such as America, have reduced us all to taking sides. For or against; no middle ground. No looking at the areas of grey in between and working there instead of situating ourselves poles apart.
What if we took the words, black and white, for and against, right and wrong from our vocabulary? I could just wave my Flamingo Dancer stick and make then disappear! What if we could only work with the grey areas, with the differentiation and the diversity, and the multitudes of the universe? No conflict, but negotiation. Consensus might break out. Progress!
I know more than a few politicians would be rendered speechless, but few I would suspect would mind. No one thinks that they are really doing anyone a service at the moment, anyway.
We could print tee-shirts with the slogan “working with the shades of grey” or “living in the grey between”! Coffee mugs to take to meetings! And of course I shall be the goddess of this movement! If not I shall take my idea and go home! Release the sticks!
Humour aside, to plagiarise that well know word – imagine.