Saturday, September 08, 2007

Choosing to be PC

I am tired of people who make fun of and criticize those of us who make an effort to be "Politically Correct (PC)" because they, the critics, want to do and say mean things. How "tedious" those critics say we are when we try to be sensitive to the feelings of others, as if tediousness were a worse affront than what they are perpetrating with their thoughtless (or intentional) meanness.
I'll be the first to admit my own occasional hypocrisy in that I, too, have said, upon occasions, "forgive me for this un-PC remark (or joke), but . . . " and then proceeded to say something that might offend someone else if they were listening (I'm assuming [and hoping] they are not.) However, I try to be careful, to do it as rarely as possible, be aware of the possible harm of it, and feel appropriately guilty.
These days, (some) people (alarmingly many) seem to have lost the ability to feel shame and guilt for inappropriate behavior. Strangely, the radio, which happens to be on as I write this, just repeated the exact words I was writing, a synchronicity that echoes and underscores the spiritual nature of this quest. "What quest?" you might ask. Why, the continuing quest to live honorable lives and to make honorable choices, of course. To be good, to live a life based on making loving and thoughtful choices. Is that not what we all hope for, to be the best people we can be? This is why we need to examine our choices, our words, and our behavior.)
Do I, as an imperfect human, have the right to criticize others when I myself sometimes act out, act shamelessly. When I'm in a shamelessly negative frame of mind, I tend to be belligerent about my right to be wrong. Don't criticize me, my behavior seems to say, or I'll slap you down, if only verbally. It seems possible that other people might be following a similar script. (Where'd it come from?) I do not know why I am sometimes like that but I wish I weren't. Luckily, I'm not that way too often (I hope). I do tend to sometimes ignore my own foibles, but then again, I tirelessly beat up on myself, too. The point is, someone has to bring up issues like criticizing the PC. Not airing the dirty laundry keeps the elephant in the room endlessly, to mix metaphors. So yes, I can talk about this, even though I am imperfect. We must talk about it.
I would prefer that people would get over their objections to making a real attempt at being PC and stop hassling and criticizing those who attempt to express kindness though considered political correctness. Being PC means being kind, considerate, loving and caring. It means being inclusive rather than exclusive. It means being able to follow the golden rule at a deep level and to truly do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It means being sensitive to the needs and feelings of other. It means that if you have to laugh at someone, laugh at yourself, not someone else. I guess that's not cool in our brash new society, but I'd like everyone to get over a version of "coolness" that requires meanness (in my opinion, there is nothing cool about cruelty) and consider a version of coolness that involves love and consideration.
OK, so I'm a Goody Two-Shoes (where did that expression come from--if I knew, I've forgotten) and sounding almost religious and preachy. I don't want to be preachy or offend or be offended. I don't want to be mean to others or have them be mean to me. I don't want to make blond jokes or forgive me Polak jokes or jokes about fat people or stupid people or "retards" or anyone else. No jokes about old people or short people, either.
Why is it that we want to join others in laughing at someone else? Is it an instinctive behavior, like chickens pecking to death an injured comrade or wolves attacking and killing a non-pack-member that inadvertently wanders into their midst? Is it like sororities and fraternities? If you laugh hard enough at someone else's expense, you get to be in the in-group? I wish that we could be civilized enough to rise above that pack-mentality behavior. Must we be sheep? Need we follow the hurtful examples of the lowest common denominator?
I want us all, including me, to be aware of what we are saying and speak and act with love in our hearts in an honorable thoughtful way and I want others to treat me that way. It's not always easy, but I'd like us to work at it and have others do the same and not criticize those who try--in my mind, it's the constant critics who are tedious, not those who try to be PC.


Patricia said...

I am glad that I have chanced on this piece. Me and a friend had some kind of a misunderstanding with regards to some work issues. It's something like "Not airing the dirty laundry keeps the elephant in the room endlessly, to mix metaphors. So yes, I can talk about this, even though I am imperfect." ( I know I am being ambiguous here, it's just that I don't want to say bad things about her and sound defensive on my part)It is just upsetting, I texted her twice telling her to forget everything and let's start fresh... but I didn't get a reply....I texted her on her birthday, but again, I didn't get a reply....I made an effort to swallow my pride for the sake of friendship that we had for so long...I am upset because despite of being "politically correct" I am looked upon as a friend who deceived a friend when she was not looking. Well, I really don't know if this comment I'm making on this article is relevant. I just wanted to write down what I am feeling right now and be relieved somehow.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Sometimes it's hard to know when to say something and when not to and if saying it, how to say it without being overly hurtful

I do think things need to be said sometimes, but how they are said needs to be done with care. (In my opinion, which isn't always correct.)

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