Guest Column | Not Left or Right, but ‘Shades of Grey’ Needed after Paris Attacks, Amidst Refugee Debate

This guest post comes from Kelly Saunders, a Snoqualmie resident, local fitness instructor, wife and mother of two. Kelly offers an optimistic take on the fear [and hate] that appears to be gripping our country (and our social media feeds) following last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris.  You can read more of Kelly’s writing on her blog:

Read on…. 


Going to get a little deep on you here. This whole ISIS thing has me scared. For my family. For the future. For the world. The Paris attacks. The refugees. It’s all very real. And all very frightening. All very hateful.

Just posting on social media about the refugees has people calling each other names. Ignorant. Self centered. Racist. Bleeding heart liberal. Selfish. This act of hate has spawned countless online conversations filled with hate, where before there was none.

We all have opinions. We will never all agree. And you will never change someone’s mind on something so emotionally driven by name calling on a FB post. So why bother? Read it and move on. Or don’t read it. Live by the adage “if you have nothing nice to say then say nothing at all.”

Today I watched a video of a 20 something aged Muslim man in Paris. He stood in the city blindfolded with a sign that read I trust you, if you trust me give me a hug. And so many people came forward to embrace him. Tears streaming down their cheeks. I watched with tears, too, and thought what in the hell has happened to this world?

How is there so much hate?

I think hate stems from being too far right or too far left. The world is not black and white. It is shades of both. And when you’re so far removed from center you cannot see grey. You see only black or white. And you hate one. You’re all or nothing. In or out. Line drawn down the center. There is no room in today’s world to be so cut and dry.

I have to say that I think my kids generation will be one to turn the tide on hate. These kids don’t care if you’re gay, bi or transgender. It is not a big deal to them. The color of your skin isn’t something that matters to them. You’re described as the funny kid. Smart kid. Kid that’s in the plays. On the swim team. Lead singer in choir.

These kids would describe you for what you do and your accomplishments rather than what you look like or who you choose to date. This generation cares more about equality for all. They see you as the human you are, not the label you’ve been given.They are more accepting of everyone than my generation and those before me. I love it.

I’m not saying you have to love everything. Or even be happy about everything. Or accept everything. But you do not have to harm or hurt those you cannot accept. Move out of your black or white and see the grey. See that differences make this world a beautiful place to be. See the differences that enrich your life, rather than diminish it. Agree to disagree. Be kind. Again, if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all.

During this crazy time in our crazy world, take a moment and recognize the people around you as human beings. People. Live beings. Underneath all of it, we are all just the same. Just different shades of grey.



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  • Thank you for sharing this guest column. I agree with her to the core of my being. I can only hope the younger generation does change the tone.

  • I agree! Good job noticing how this next generation truly does think this way. I love it! Brings about the hope we all long for. Peace, love, joy, self control, kindness and faithfulness.

  • Kelly Saunders, you’ve nailed it!

    Your comments apply not only to the Syrian refugee issue, but to most issues in the world today. Binary thinking (you are either with me or you are one of them!) is the enemy of critical thought in America (for that matter the entire world) today. Yet, the real truth of any situation is often somewhere in the middle, and compromise by each extreme is necessary for us to come together, resolve issues and move forward. Without consensus, we will be in conflict with ourselves, a situation that will ultimately lead to our downfall.

    Like Kelly, I’ve had the opportunity to observe the next generations. Like her, I’ve come to the conclusion that for a generation or more, the kids don’t judge by race, nationality, gender, sexual preference, etc. Most kids these days value their peers for what they bring to the table, not by the prejudices of the generations that have gone before them. My experience with kids and their attitudes dates to 2004 when my wife and I hosted the daughter of friends that had moved out of state so the daughter could finish high school and graduate with her friends. Those kids were miles ahead of my own generation when it came to accepting people for their accomplishments and contributions, rather than pigeon holing and ostracizing them for their differences.
    The saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. We need to think along the same lines – don’t judge anyone without getting to know them deeply. This nation was founded by a cacophony of individuals from all over the world that fled from injustice, inequality, inequity, racial and religious persecution. Almost all of today’s migrants fall into those same categories.
    The time has come to stop judging folks by how different they are. Instead, if we should judge at all, it should be by how much we truly have in common.

    Best regards,

    Steve Haas

  • Living Snoqualmie