Linguistically, popular parlance postulates a polarising polemic with individuals, issues and ideas perceived as good or bad, right or wrong, weak or strong or sad or happy, among other things.

This black and white tapestry of opposites also permeates gender discourse, where the masculine is depicted as the destructive opposite of feminine, being promiscuous proposed as the antithesis of puritanical to imperil our sexual sanity and the Left considered perfidiously opposed to the Right in a political perspective.. Moreover economically, social discussion now groups the haves vs the have-nots to delineate the rich from the poor.

These psychological and philosophical prescriptions focus on a dangerous division; with difference a bipolar mentality that intensifies ideological and ethical values into often intractable and intransigent positions.

As youth, we are mostly instructed by parents and teachers to be good, honest and humble, with deceit deplored as damaging to a decent, worthy and upstanding life.

In this scenario, there seems no room to manoeuvre on a behavioural and moral mantra, with opposites and/or extremes entrenched in the mores of our social spectrum; at work, at home and at play.

Dialogue that denies this extremism is often dismissed as a naïve, even ignorant stance that undermines the profound passion of ardent emotion and beliefs, with shades of grey missing in the fervent fury that punctuates social discourse.

But as 20thcentury Irish poet, William Butler Yeats asserted: “…empty souls tend to extreme opinion…”
Political correctness also seems to inspire a subliminal syndrome of opposites that shrouds a shades of grey understanding for greater empathy and compassion.

Undoubtedly, striving to be good and decent is admirable, but adhering to an absolute ideal of goodness fails to acknowledge its relative merit, with being bad usually an inappropriate and inapplicable corollary.

A more realistic appraisal is that as humans we share many foibles, frailties and faults, implying that most opposites or extremes only proscribe and negate this humanity.

Cognisance of a more centrist, middle ground with in-between notions that are less polarising and poisonous could excite our lives with greater positivity and perspicacity Faith in shades of grey in our attitudes, actions and opinions could enrich our pronouncements for a far more sanguine and stable society.

British philosopher, Bertrand Russell, echoed Yeats’ belief by warning: “All movements go too far”, suggesting that semantics should be balanced by shades of grey as more apposite than opposite.

Believing in balance is paramount as Proverbs 4:27 proclaimed: “Do not turn to the right or the left, Keep your foot from evil…”

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