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In light of the frequent mass shootings happening in America, the way the right wing has handed the idea of “free speech” to the masses as a license to “do and say what you like and damned anyone who tries to stop you” is worrying.

Conversation gets clamped like a car

Cars, like conversation, are designed to be on the road, not clamped in a garage – Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

In other words, communication, which describes a two-way discussion involving speaking, listening, understanding and responding between participants, is being clamped.

An in-depth article in the Guardian by Moira Weigel about political correctness and how it has been hijacked to by right-wing supporters of Donald Tramp to silence opposition or criticism. That seems to be exactly what political correctness does. It silences people because they are too confused to speak.

The concept of political correctness with its connotations is not new.

The term is what Ancient Greek rhetoricians would have called an “exonym”: a term for another group, which signals that the speaker does not belong to it.

Conversation is a two-way street and everyone's perspectives are equally valid

Society might be causing men and women to have increasingly divergent perspectives on the world making it harder for them to understand each other’s point of view

Therefore, let us draw a clear, definitive line. political correctness is confusing as the line between what is offensive or has become so blurred now that any mention of gender, race, religion or sexuality can be stamped as an “ism”. This makes all these subjects very hard to discuss at all.

Hence, the line that we ought to try and toe is: “Am I being derogatory about these people in any way, especially in a generalized or stereotypical way?”.

When someone mentions one of conversation’s hot potatoes, what we need to ask is: Are you being derogatory to the group or person you are speaking about?”. That boils the presence of offense down to yes or no. If the subject being spoken about is not present, then their point of view is not present either.

What message does sticking up for someone else convey? A quote keeps cropping up in current American dramas:

We do not see the world as it is. We see the world as we are

  • The Talmud

Therefore, we cannot properly defend someone else as we do not see the world as they are, surely?

Seeing the world from an elevated position means being more at risk to falling

People who have more often feel they have more to lose – Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

The problems that those impacted are trying to escape from is loss of opportunity, loss of respect and loss of reward. In other words, people want to be better known and understood in the world so they do not face unfairness or disadvantage.

However, overcoming adversity is a much forgotten character builder for human beings. Those who have been given everything on a plate are less equipped to deal with unexpected turns of events that those who have overcome obstacles or worked hard to achieve something.

Therefore, bigotry and prejudice are unfair. More and more evidence appears that shows that economic advantage on its own does not make people better or happier on the global stage than those with less.

Conformity does seem to breed wealth, however, wealth also breeds conformity. Is conformity not a type of prison though? Does it not restrict freedom? Do we even know what real freedom is, if we take everything for granted. In other words, being selfish and taking everything for granted, being entitled in other words, is a form of self-inflicted prison, is it not?

Civil society describes behaviour between those within it

It seems to be energy better invested in getting to know the people in our lives rather than judging strangers – Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash

Many of the ills, which we blame on society, seem to be mis-attributed. A recent Channel 4 documentary by #KathyBurke shows how much pressure women are put under to look good, whereas men are not under the same pressure. Part of this is because women can end up very isolated because of a lack of support, empathy and connection from men or other women.

The perspectives of men and women are increasingly becoming divergent. The point of view of women might be that they have far fewer careers they can enter, they will be paid less, they will be expected to work harder in their jobs and at home and that their view of the world will not be understood by many others.

Meanwhile, a man’s point of view might be that the woman he fancies should sleep with him unless she is in another relationship, there is something wrong with her if she refuses, his needs should come before hers and that any complaint from her is an annoyance and ridiculous.

Those are both generalizations, yes. They are also biased, because I am a woman. I cannot see the world through a man’s eyes so, perhaps I ought not to try and guess at his point of view. The man’s perspective I described above is a woman’s perspective of a man’s perspective. Let a man speak for himself to describe his actual point of view. That is diversity and diversity is all about seeing the world from a global perspective.

In conclusion, to avoid all these pitfalls, let us spread a message using some ideas and hashtags:

If you don’t know, don’t say. #knownotsaynot

or:

If you don’t know, ask #knownotsaywhat?

As Brené Brown says, in her #TEDtalk Call To Courage, it is totally our own domain to choose what feedback we listen to or not. Brown describes how we are either in the arena of our lives, out there, taking action, speaking up, or we are in the stalls. She describes those people slinging abuse at strangers on the Internet as “in the cheap seats”. In other words, not season ticket holders, there for the game, but those who want to judge and criticize others because it makes themselves feel better.

We can all participate not just sit and watch

Becoming good at something requires practice – Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash

They say love is knowing someone else like you know yourself. In other words, a complete stranger is going to be indifferent to your feelings and ignorant about your life. So why listen to them? We are conditioned from a young age to listen to adults without question, but once we become adults ourselves, we have to start to think for ourselves. Does that person know us? Have I asked for their opinion? Am I doing something that affects them? Do I understand where they are coming from?

Self esteem is a major factor in all this. Do you think you have equal rights to other people? Does your inner voice agree with what other people say to you? It might be surprising to learn, therefore, that advantaged, wealthy people are very likely to have low self esteem. Why? Because loneliness and having too much time on your hands is not good for our self esteem. Who says the super rich are lonely? Name one film that portrays a rich person who is happy and is surrounded by down to earth and genuine people?

In conclusion, I visualise a brighter future for humanity. With the Internet, it is now possible to find out whatever you want. Yes, there is a lot of censorship. However, if you aim is to be truly happy, you can now find out how to make that happen. Just keep exploring and discovering and remain open to communication and new information. Then take new actions to try different things out and see what fits.

It does not matter what you have. Nothing beats human interaction when it comes with acceptance and a desire to know more.

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