HALL: It's really not gray at all

Stan Hall 

Stan Hall 

When did gray become so popular? It's perhaps the dullest color of the overall pallet but it seems to be the color du jour. Gray is the thing, everything from the series of "Gray" books that are burning up the bookstores to the weather and economic forecast. It's not nearly as exciting as a nice pastel or as bold as some of the classics, but gray is apparently up and coming and on the move. Gray is the new black, or gray is the new white. Admittedly, I'm a little challenged due to some borderline color blindness, but I believe that it is still just gray.

I love it when we use the word each time we have difficulty making a decision. It's the fall back when someone is asked his or her opinion on something that might be controversial or difficult to take a stand on. "Well, it's really not a black and white issue; it is a very gray area." That typically means that they are too scared to make a decision, can't make a decision, or in fact they really don't have an inkling of an understanding of the area that they have quickly roped off as being a gray area. It might be a lack of gray matter but typically it is not a gray area.

Some of us are now very quick to move toward the land of the bland, also known as gray, when it comes to politics. Someone once said never talk about politics or religion, as it will only cause hurt feelings, anger, or the prompt end to an otherwise enjoyable conversation. Why is that? Are we so divided and dug in to our politics or religion that it is impossible to have a healthy and intelligent conversation about these issues? It seems that we are.

But I still think that these are topics that should be open for conversation. Not so much in a manner of trying to convince someone with differing views that they are wrong, but to learn from them as to what brought them to their conclusions. I am what most would consider to be conservative in my beliefs, but I like nothing more that a good conversation with someone who is just the opposite. Maybe I, or they, will hear something that neither of us have ever considered which may not change our minds, but may offer some explanation and understanding as to how we and they got there. There is little room for the color gray in these types of conversations.

In fact, the color if it was actually visible, would run the gauntlet from a bold red to a deep blue with a smattering of some really black and some really white all mixed in. According to the topic, we might even see some pink, and I can assure you that the color yellow will always make its way to the top of the color bucket. But gray ... .not so much!

I will admit that there are conversational topics, especially the topic of politics, which have irregular boundaries that seem to bleed in to each other from time to time. They can often appear gray but if you look at the issue closely, the black and white pigments will be easily recognizable. Choosing gray is just a way for one to escape picking one or the other.

In fact, in most cases, those topics that are pushed aside as being a gray area and not really black or white could not be any clearer. Most are as black and white as the keys on a piano, as black and white as the checkerboard tile floor at a '50s diner, as black and white as midnight and noon, and as black and white as right and wrong or good and bad. That is the crux and the inevitable crutch of most conversations that gets the pass due to its improper categorization of grayness.

We all know what it is that we believe in. And we all know that there will be those who believe in other things. That is OK. What is not OK is when we limit our conversations to only those who believe just as we do and avoid any conversations with those who might differ. And to take this position, under the premise of the color gray, will leave us in a situation where we will no longer be able to have dialogue on any issue that comes along.

That is the bad news. The good news is that the color gray will no longer have a place in our national conversations, as everything will in fact be completely black or white. Once that occurs, the need for conversations becomes a moot and colorless conversation. Some strokes of the brush are simply very difficult to cover without the ugly shadows that are always visible below the surface.

Stan L. Hall is the executive director of the Gwinnett Sports Commission and Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau.