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Life is lived in the gray area
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If you try hard, you might recall the beauty of a bright blue sky studded with big, puffy white clouds, both missing for weeks. But look around and revel in the rainbow of colors that summer brings, rain or shine: lemony daylilies, rosy crepe myrtles, shiny red tomatoes, bold yellow squash, massed purple petunias and verbena, golden marigolds, the look-at-me colors of Gerbera daisies, inky blue blueberries, the quietly alluring pink, blue and lavender of heavy-headed hydrangeas, and the let-me-have-a-taste-red of fresh-picked strawberries. The unrelenting rain makes the variegated greens of shrubs, lawns and trees more luscious than ever.

Summer’s a feast for the eyes, and says the HGTV website, every color has meaning. Green is “life itself,” “newness” and birth. It has a “whimsical” side, and slapped on a wall, it stimulates conversation in a room. Blue is “fresh and vital.”

Purple, “headstrong” and “powerful,” connotes royalty and prophets, intertwined sorrow and passion.

Yellow speaks of “higher powers” beyond the ken of man and suggests “intellectualism,” “random thoughts” and “innocent happiness.” Red represents the life force and powerful human emotions, both love and hate. It is “full of ego” and “inner flames.” Pink expresses youth and joyful life. It is gentle and calm, innocent and playful. It speaks to the feminine side of both women and men.

Then there’s gray, nondescript and neutral, either warm or cool or neither. It is said to convey “solidity” and support, but it also stands for wisdom. And in my mind, gray is where much of life is lived, where the outcome and resolution of many issues and situations are neither black nor white nor entirely clear-cut.

Don’t get me wrong: Pollsters can determine clear divides on issues in the public domain, but the findings don’t necessarily assign right or wrong.

After all, your “right” might be my “wrong,” and vice versa. Religious texts of all the major faiths attempt to define what is mete and right or unjust and therefore disallowed for believers.

Manmade laws also attempt to define what is right and wrong – or better, acceptable and unacceptable – in the interactions of people, governments and corporations. But still the laws are made by women and men, all flawed creatures, and subject further to interpretation by the courts.

Politicians and protesters believe themselves to be able to clearly define right and wrong, but each group has a side to push that disallows other thinking. Politics is now mainly a game, and the “winner” is judged to be “right” when the winner actually may be far from “right” if all the facts and nuances of an issue could be laid fairly and objectively on the table.

This is not likely because human beings are a bundle of emotions, prejudices, needs, desires and various levels of education and experience. “Right,” if it is possible to determine, may well lie in the dark and dusty details purposefully or accidentally left out of the discussion.

Let’s talk about Paula Deen. She honestly confessed in a deposition (because she had no choice) that she had used a despicable word at some time in the past, maybe many times. She and her brother are being sued for allegedly creating a racially insensitive work environment at a family-owned restaurant.

Her empire cratered immediately, as sponsor after sponsor dropped her like a hot potato battered and deep-fried. Her TV show was canceled, and publishing plans came to a quick halt.

She didn’t win any kudos for how she handled the meltdown of her career. To many, the reaction seemed to be overkill and piling on. To others, it was an appropriate public bashing.

Did she deserve what she got? Or did she not? The answer to me is neither black nor white, but gray like her well-coiffed tresses.

Then there’s the armed George Zimmerman and the death of an unarmed young man, Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman has been acquitted of charges, and by my layman’s understanding of Florida law, the available evidence, the case made or not made by the prosecution, and the judge’s instructions to the jurors, the acquittal was not inexplicable.

Yet it leaves an unsettled feeling as if justice were a second victim. We are quick to say someone must pay if someone is wronged, but the only remedies are through law made by human beings. Justice is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as “the principle of moral rightness,” but also as “the administration and procedure of the law.” Are those two definitions sometimes unrelated?

It’s a gray area for me, but not to thousands arrayed on either side in this case. It’s easy for media coverage, opinion writers and supporters who take sides to make it seem we live on the fringes of issues. But too much – to me - remains in the middle, indecipherable and undecided.

Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics. She can be reached at