While most of the time I can see in color very well, there was a particularly frightening moment in college where I was unable to see in color for about fifteen minutes or so and my vision was like looking at a black & white television on the wrong channel. Color blindness as a condition is one that afflicts more than 300 million people worldwide. According to various health websites, about one in every 12 (or around 8%) of men and around .5% (or one in every 200) of women are afflicted with colorblindness. This is a pretty common problem, and if it’s not one that I have myself, it is one whose effects I see pretty often, as I am often asked to convey some sort of color-based knowledge or notice something that is invisible to those who cannot see in color.
One of the issues that my landlord brought up today regarding his color blindness was the way that the church literature that he reads often features text that is impossible for him to distinguish. That this fact is not communicated to those who make decisions on graphic design is due, at least in his case, to his feeling that the ability to know that a given combination of colors of text and background is impossible for color blind readers to read is so basic and obvious that it is an insult to have to communicate it to someone. What is blindingly obvious to someone who is color blind, though, is not so obvious to someone who can see colors well, and I suspect that it is simply a matter of the people involved in graphical design for church literature simply not having anyone who is color blind on the teams responsible for clearing the designs, leaving it for people to read if they are able or to have other people read if they are unable. There need not be any sort of stupidity or malice involved. If something is not a problem for us, it is often not obvious to use that it would be a problem for other people.
In 2016, from their EP “When Night Becomes Day,” the band Finish Ticket released a single called “Color,” where the lead singer sang about how he had to push through the black and white inside of him in order to see in color. This was meant, of course, in a metaphorical way. Those who cannot distinguish between colors because of limitations within the eyes do so because of genetic limitations in their eyes which can cause some serious issues. It is not something, at least at the present time, that they can do anything about. What people can do something about is their metaphorical vision, in their distinguishing between good and evil, or between the worst and less bad or best and less good. This vision is not easy to acquire, but it is an important thing to do.
The inability to properly distinguish between what is good and evil can lead to all kinds of problems. In Western society, we are most common with this problem resulting in people thinking that evil is good, in being able to see anything as evil that corresponds to our desires or longings or interests. This problem is sufficiently often discussed that it is not necessary at this time to go into more detail about it. What I would like to comment about, though, is that the problem can go the other way. If we are unable to distinguish evil and good, we can see things that are blameless as evil and can respond accordingly and thus make ourselves extremely rude and unpleasant people because we see evil in places where it does not happen to be. It has been reported me that this is the case in the city of Isfahan, Iran, where the people of the town relish harassing and assaulting tourists who do not meet their stringent requirements of modesty. There is more than one way for a city to be an abomination, in refusing to see evil and in seeing evil where it is not, both of which skew our moral vision. To err on one side is as bad a problem as to err on the other. It is better by far to distinguish, to see in color.