Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Political Correctness and Evolution

In my universe, there's been recent and frequent talk about Political Correctness ("PC") and how it's the "ruination of our country".  I'm not saying these things, but people I know are.  And it makes me wonder what is so horrible about taking a few seconds to choose your words so that you don't run the risk of offending someone - anyone - who either has suffered or is currently suffering at the hands of established societal norms.  I don't care for the term 'politically correct' because there is nothing 'political' about having good manners.  In my quest to be an accepting person while attempting to put myself in the shoes of others, my ultimate goal is to just not be an asshole.

First, let me stand on a box and confess out loud that I am not without my prejudices, which almost seem innate.  I can't help the way my mind works but I can re-educate myself and I do have complete control over how my mouth functions, i.e. what I say or not say in the presence of others.  Anyone who has ever spent 10 minutes in my company knows that I am opinionated.  And I own up to the fact that I don't say about 80% of what runs through my brain.  Because back in my childhood, I learned that words can be upsetting, hurtful, insulting, and damaging.  Painful.  And in this day of cyber abuse and bullying, we know all too well that words can also kill.  So what is so hard about having good manners (read: PC) and choosing to not say something that might cause pain to or kill another human being?

The thing about being PC is that you can't pick and choose it.  You have to be all in.  You can't demand PC towards you and not give it back.  Number One: it's not fair, and Number Two: it contradicts the concept of The Golden Rule and ethic reciprocity.

I have a niece with speech development issues and a nephew with autism.  It's only because of PC that the world shouldn't call them "retarded".  I have a father with dementia and it's only because of PC that the world shouldn't call him "insane".  I have female relatives who are full-figured, and it's only because of PC that the world shouldn't call them "fat".  And, also because of PC, every one of them is allowed to live in the world and not be shut up in an asylum - which they would have been as recently as 30 years ago.

We EVOLVE because we MUST.  We are arguably the most intelligent form of life that's ever lived in the universe.  We have adapted our thinking and beliefs over time as we have become more educated and responsible.  It's only been those species that have refused to adapt that have died out.  Thomas Jefferson, the man who authored the Declaration of Independence almost 240 years ago, stated:
"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."
PC is not the ruination of the country, it's its deliverance from harm, ruin and loss.  So whether it's a word (I, myself, grew up being called a "sissy" and a "fag" and there are still people who think I should be put to death) or a symbol (such as a logo, a salute, a hand gesture, and , yes, even a flag) that causes pain to someone, why wouldn't we as an evolved, educated society want its use to stop?!?  Is a word or symbol more sacred than a human life?  If it's TOO hard for you to know what to say, do the entire world and yourself a favor and just say NOTHING.

Most people to whom PC comments are directed are suffering from some kind of societal norm deficit.  So when you think about it, aren't their lives hard enough without us choosing to hurt them unnecessarily?