People are quick to say that ethical matters are not always black and white, but often gray. My counter is that I don’t think it’s a matter of grayness. Grayness is just our lack of information or our lack of understanding of the underlying ethical principles.
It’s like looking at a black and white photograph in a newspaper. At first glance, there appears to be a lot of gray. But pull out a magnifying glass and look closer. What do you see? A bunch of black dots on a white background. So what appears to be gray on the surface is really just black and white when we analyze it more closely.
Ethical situations can be a lot like the photo. We sometimes have to pull out our “ethical magnifying glass” if we are to see and understand the underlying principles more effectively. Once we can bring the black and white into focus, our ethical decisions become easier.
I was reminded of this principle earlier today when I read a post by Jack Marshall on the Ethics Alarm Blog Site (an excellent resource for ethics-based leadership, by the way). Police Dynamics and the principles of good character help us to keep that magnifying glass polished so we can make better ethical decisions.