I Fear for Nuance

Don’t call Ferguson useless vandalism and violence and then argue that the Boston Tea Party was a revolutionary act of bravery — sean tee (@seantrcy) November 25, 2014 We live in an age of knee-jerk defensiveness. Our words on screen or in person automatically get parceled and packaged into some imaginary camp called far left… Read more I Fear for Nuance

We live in an age of knee-jerk defensiveness. Our words on screen or in person automatically get parceled and packaged into some imaginary camp called far left or far right.

Nuance is on the extinction list, at least as far as the listeners are concerned. I fear for nuance, it was once abundant and poignant. It was once the tool of choice in seeking understanding and parsing peaceful agreement. It’s now rare, overlooked, misunderstood and mis-labelled. Like a world without the Dodo we soon won’t know what life WITH nuance looks like.

I fear for nuance, because right now it’s the only way to navigate complex racially charged issues without spiraling into name calling and fear-scapegoating rants. We can’t save the Dodo, but every interaction you have is an opportunity to reject the nuance-poachers of bias, prejudice, fear, and hate.

The Tweet above was poached for it’s nuance. The reactions were predictable for a world without nuance. Most questioned the author’s intentions, education, and ability to reason or think clearly. Why? Because nuance is dead for so many. Without nuance, idols of our Civil Religion, like the Boston Tea Party, cannot be demeaned to the level of something like Ferguson. The Boston Tea Party did not happen without controversy. In it’s wake came the deaths of many colonists and English. It wasn’t perfect, but it was Revolutionary. Michael Brown was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. He most likely was involved in things that deserved punishment. He most likely provoked the officer in ways he shouldn’t have. Since when, from the founding of our government, has doing criminal acts meant that police officers are allowed to shoot to kill and walk away without punishment?

Everything about this situation requires a nuanced and complex approach. And yet, conversations through our nation, online and in media outlets, leads us to believe that you are either FOR Michael Brown or AGAINST all people of color. Or you are FOR Darren Wilson or AGAINST the rule of law and all police officers.

Don’t fall victim to the poachers of nuance. They have had their day in our society for far too long and have nearly evaporated every chance of survival that nuance has left. Reject prejudice. Reject bias. Reject fear and hate… and do these things first in your own heart and mind, because we — ourselves — are the poachers. There is no “them” to blame. I have poached my share of nuance, as have we all. Don’t let the conversation around the Ferguson verdict be the nail in the coffin that was nuance.