The Sorrow of Grey Areas

Beautiful Innocent
Beautiful Innocent

In the absence of God we all want perfect heroes, don’t we? We build them up and hate them as we drag them down to earth. I can’t write about characters who don’t get dragged into pits and stomped on. It doesn’t seem real to me. I can’t relate and feel the whole hero thing is a sham.

On the other hand when people struggle with an evil reality, get caught on their feelings of inadequacy and do nothing to address the evil I feel sympathetic. Some people are militant enough to watch PETA videos and give up meat (but we all know you can’t escape the grey areas even as a vegan).

And so it was with American slavery. There were no perfect heroes, but it’s wrong to say that there weren’t plenty of people who hated slavery. Here’s how a lot of Northerners handled it in their heads:

1. We are a loose confederacy of states. I’m not my brother’s keeper.

2. I know slavery is evil and we just had this Great Awakening religious revival thing and as a Christian I feel guilty.

3. Yet, the Constitution is a masterpiece, almost sacred, even. Hmm.

4. I don’t own slaves and no one in my state does. It’s not my problem and I can’t fix it.

5. Then why do I still feel guilty?

6. And why do I hate the Abolitionists?

7. I hate them because without them I can pretend that I’m innocent (since I don’t keep slaves). I just want to live my life in peace–and I have relatives down south. They don’t have slaves either.

8. I don’t hate abolitionists because I hate black people and want them enslaved. I hate them because they pick at that sore, they addle my conscience and I know they’re right . . .

9. But what’s to be done? I don’t want my son fighting a war . . . he’s so young and innocent.

10. I won’t read the papers, I won’t listen to the sermons–oh, slaves and slavery and grey areas! Damn them all to hell!

10 responses to “The Sorrow of Grey Areas”

  1. “That’s the way God planned it”. There were those in the 19th Century who deluded themselves that it was not so grey and all part of God’s will. Mankind had dominion over animals (naturally, hence the demise of whale, buffalo and Passenger Pigeon; all ok because of the dominion thing) and thereafter there was a further natural order of white male protestant, catholic and middle class Jew, foreigners of civilised culture, unwashed foreigners, then heathens and aboriginals. Somewhere in this pantheon came slavery with the precursor to the Billy Preston lyric uppermost in Liberal consciousness as a mitigating circumstance during periods of handwringing impotence.


    • People use various things to rationalize. Darwinists still do to this day–social engineering is alive and well though we change the name (planned parenthood in the US has a very racist past). How do we rationalize buying shoes made on the backs of slave labor in other countries? How do we turn our heads away from pedophile scandals?

      I did a post a while back about pigeons–I hadn’t realized how destructive they were to food crops. How do we feed people?

      “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 That’s the way God planned it.


  2. Ah, moral compromise! My old friend! How comforting to see you again. Please, no hugs, though. Your skin is always so cold…


  3. A blazing light on grey, which dominates all human thought and behaviour, and which people are scared of penetrating – especially bloggers and anyone with a word count ticking in their heads. You do it succinctly.


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