It feels like we live in a world of absolutes. Even as I say we, it feels disingenuous because of how fragmented society seems, all of us lost in our own feeds, our own imagined utopias.
Absolutes are a safer bet. No one ever went viral for saying I guess or I dunno. I should probably take the Almost out of this essay’s title.
Nuance is bad on the campaign trail, the pulpit, the billboard. It bombs terribly at the wedding altar.
The problem with nuance is that it is rarely a solution. Solutions come in uncompromising, victorious form. A promise is a future solution—its air is not fresh, but the tension keeps us hoping for that someday justice.
But nuance is almost always a breath of fresh air. We can sigh in relief when the honesty of nuance invites us to be truthful with ourselves. When nuance lets us admit that we don’t have all the facts, when it illuminates facts we didn’t know.
Nuance teaches us to come to terms with the inconsistencies of our own thoughts while we criticize the hypocrisy of others. Nuance lets us see the motivations of others—maybe they are not good, but they are here and we live with them—they are an obstacle, an opportunity, a revelation.
Wisdom still offers us nuance. Its agents are unbothered by the slow path of research and grace, by the patience with which it takes to give us a fuller picture of the complexities of modern life, modern systems. They are unafraid of the bad people who do good, the good people who do bad.
We need fresh air to breathe. To see the world as it is, to create what might be.