I actually don’t remember much from my undergraduate degree. At all.
Terrible, isn’t it?
I studied Law (but not very well, it seems!). To be fair, it was nearly 17 years ago now (showing my age there!) since I first started at university. And they do say the mind archives and deletes information it learns that doesn’t get used very often for optimisation and efficiency. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
I do remember one thing though.
From the very first day, and even the very first lecture I was in.
Amongst all the excitement to a jam packed lecture theatre, the lecturer (I forget his name) was telling us that as young lawyers, our lives would never be the same again from this point onwards. *Pause for dramatic effect.*
I’m sure every lecturer claims this in some form or other as a way of professing self-importance for their subject. But the truth is, he was absolutely right.
I even remember how he said it. Sort of.
What he said (obviously I’m paraphrasing here) was:
“Up until this point, you have been seeing the world in black and white. Everything is either this or that. By studying law, you will now see everything in grey. You will realise that everything has a grey area. Nothing is as black and white as it seems — even things that appear to be patently obvious black or blatantly white. You will learn to look at the alternative, to assess from all angles and then use the facts and evidence to come to a conclusion. You will present your case. And even then, you might be wrong.”
I thought then, as I still think now — that it was quite profound.
Black, White or Grey?
It keeps you humble. It shows you the limitation of your mind, or your understanding of information in general. It allows you to appreciate the nuances of the situation, whether it is a different understanding of language, or of meaning, or someone else’s world view. It allows you to consider historical context. It allows you to look for patterns and trends and to connect the dots. What are the biases? Could this information have been manipulated? Who stands to gain from this information being this way? Most importantly of all — does this information even concern you? Will your world be significantly different if you didn’t respond or have an opinion on this?
I honestly think this is what the world needs more of. In the last 17 years we have increasingly been going back towards seeing the world in black and white again, as a society. Everything is one extreme or another. The world has never been as polarised as it is now. You either like Trump or you hate him. You are either for or against Brexit. You are either for Islam / immigration / capitalism / climate change / [insert issue here] or against it, as the politicians and media cry. It’s just too simplistic a world view. This is the very basis of the divide and conquer strategy. It’s not even subtle, any more.
What the world actually needs is wisdom. Balance. Thoughtful reflection. Analysis. Reason. Humility. Spirituality. To let go.
It needs much less ego and way more empathy.
Less black. Less white.
It needs us to see the world as grey again.
A lifelong learner, avid reader and passionate writer, I am the founder of KNOW and a serial entrepreneur.
I am a huge believer in personal development and am also the co-founder of Muslim CEO.