When I was 22 years old, I worked at a small company where an older salesman bragged to me about how he defrauded customers. I raised serious concerns with him, and it got back to the company owner, who one day decided to give me some fatherly, sage advice. He said, “You know, when I was your age, I also saw things in black and white. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that things are mainly shades of grey.”
It was true that I was young, inexperienced and naive in many things. I’m now close to the age that company owner was back then. I better understand the layered complexities, ambiguities and difficulties of life. I can think of a number of things that I’m not nearly as dogmatic about as I was back then.
But fraud isn’t one of them.
The Danger of Dimmed Vision
At age 50, it’s as clear to me as it was at 22 that the owner’s “shades of grey” spiel wasn’t sagacity; it was self-justifying, compromise-covering baloney. The fraud wasn’t grey; it was straight-up stealing and lying. If the defrauded customer had been in on our chat, the “grey” would have looked quite black to him, as it would have to a judge had legal action been pursued.
So what had happened to this man over time that greyed-out his moral vision? It is no mystery; we all know. It was one compromise, and then another, and then another, until the incremental, cumulative effects of selfishness and greed had corrupted his integrity. A self-induced osteoporosis of compromise had weakened his moral backbone. His was not wisdom gained by age; his was moral conviction lost by atrophy.
To my knowledge, this owner was not a Christian, so the blinding of 2 Corinthians 4:4). We all know people we love whose once-clear vision has faded to grey. We have seen the effects in ourselves. It is an ever-present danger.