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Monochromes and Color

There is a planet that for all intents and purposes is exactly like Earth, except for one important difference. On this planet, the people do not experience color. Everything they see is shades of black and white, with hues captured in tonal grays. This never brought anyone to dismay, because they had never wondered if colors existed at all. Why would they? They had only experience monochromatic existence. This didn’t stop them from having a pleasurable life; they lived in ignorance. They still gave names to the different shades of black and white they saw. The sun was a different “color” than the grass and both were different than the sky. They perceived these shades as true colors and in a way they were right.

One day, a woman started to proclaim that the people who lived upon this planet were in need of new eyes. She was an experimental ophthalmologist, who had begun experimenting on the rods and cones and realized that all of humanity had not been seeing the world as it really is. They were trapped in a metaphorical darkness. But convincing them of this reality was laborious and unfruitful.

How do you describe a real experience to someone who cannot imagine what that experience would be like? She was left to say odd things like “There is a more real world that you cannot see” and “Trust me, I have seen a better way.” Understandably, they thought she was insane. They would openly wonder how there could be more to life than the colors they saw right now. Why would anyone risk surgery on their eyes for some abstract experience that they could not even describe?

This did not stop some “fools” from opting for the surgery despite the great cost. No insurance company would deem it a medical necessity and thus, these men and women who took the leap of faith did so at great cost to themselves. The odd thing that the Monochromes could not understand is that these people who returned from surgery were left different. Wonder very rarely left their face and they seemed to laugh at certain ways the world was arranged. They became painters and artists, trying to capture their experience for a world that could not fathom what they saw. And some became ophthalmologists as well, trying to invite others to experience what they had come to see.

These people were deemed insane and the first doctor was eventually discredited and barred from medicine. The Monochromes could not deal with the crazies any longer. But the tradition continued and to this day, some on that world emerge from the hospital with new eyes and grasp the secret of the Colors that nobody had been able to describe.

I tell this story because I am tempted towards the tenets of Monochromism. They have one important commandment: Doubt the Colors. They cannot imagine a world of Colors and I often resonate with them. This is not ideal because although by nature I am a skeptic, I am also a Christian. I have staked my life that the Colors are real and that the Good Physician really did perform a surgery that fixed my ability to see the world as it is. But in my doubt, I wonder if the Colors aren’t but figments of my imagination.

I think I am tempted to this because it is much easier to be a Monochrome. Monochromism doesn’t go against convention and its strength is that its adherents can’t fathom a different sort of existence. They can’t imagine the Colors and deem us mistaken. We who see the Colors are left threatened by the inability of humanity to see it. And in my dark seasons, I too wonder if the Colors were worth it and try to retreat to my previous Monochromism.

I love the Monochromes and I love the Colors and how to make Monochromes see the true world is a question I cannot answer. But I have recently been awakened once more to the Colors. God has been gracious enough to pull me out of my darkness into something else. My biggest issue has been that I have listened closely to the words of the Monochromes and not the words of the God who created Color. While I have been troubled by their lack of ability to see color, He has continued to sustain my ability to see it and has promised to continue to open the eyes of Monochromes to something they cannot fathom. My eyes are still partly shaded to the Colors, but the King of all will continually draw me up from the shadows into his Colorful light.

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