"Got an earful from the aunt. But it was Quoyle who smoothed things out, explained in a reasonable voice, coaxed the principal and Bunny into mutual apologies and promises. Easy enough for the principal who knew that Mrs. Lumbull was moving to Grand Falls to open a Christian bookstore. Hard for Bunny who still measured events on a child's scale of fair and unfair." The Shipping News, pg. 317
When we were in Edinburgh, we watched a college movie on the hotel TV, funny enough. There was a big sister and her freshman brother who tried to go into the most popular frat. She was dating this really popular guy, and when he cheated on her, she cheated on him and stayed together with him. When her amazed brother asked why she acted like that, she said: "Black and white - that was in high school. Now we are in the gray zone in between. I can't give up what I've worked so hard for!"
As I'm faced with real life situations, I observe people acting in unprincipled, inconsistent ways that often don't make sense to me. But then I realize, they act like that because they see the big picture, they see what's beyond that situation, rightly so since that situation is not isolated. Sometimes acting "right" in every instance does not yield the right result. People give up something small, some small piece of principle, a sense of what's "right", what's just, what's consistent, to save, to achieve something bigger. They apologize for something they shouldn't apologize for to save someone's face. They don't apologize for what they should apologize for to avoid taking responsibility. We all become diplomats, we all mind balances and act strategically.
This is something new to me. I think it'll help me understand people and the world, and navigate through, though, so that I don't get so stupidly surprised every time someone deviates from best practice!
Input and output legitimacy: Sometimes we have to do the more counter-intuitive, less than ideal thing to achieve the desired outcome.
It's important to set the goals and priorities right, though. You don't want to give up something valuable for something petty. And I still think some things (should) have more value than others. That is (should be) black and white.
By the way, it's been a year since I did those LSE exams! I still remember the barbecue on that grassy courtyard with keys, and how the sun came out...