I am sick of political correctness. I think it has more to do with the ‘political’ part of the phrase. Nor am I a fan of tolerance. It smacks of sanctimony and arrogance. It’s our human nature to place a level of righteousness on our beliefs and hold them as the proper perspective in a given the situation. To tolerate alternative ideas is to support another person’s right to think any old way they choose while maintaining my right to feel superior for having the accurate and appropriate belief. Yuck! Who wants to be around that?
Now, about political correctness. I believe there are appropriate and inappropriate behaviors that should be based on civility, manners and compassion. Most world religions have ethical and moral guidelines that let us know when we are playing ‘nice’ and when we are being tasteless and need to rethink our motivation to say or do certain things. Unfortunately, the politically correct movement seems to be generated by those who want to seem tolerant so they instruct the rest of us on what is acceptable – or not – based on their standards and find anyone who doesn’t agree to be intolerant thereby making the alleged tolerant group intolerant of those whom they deem intolerant. You get my point??? Who gets to decide what is correct and what isn’t? It seems be the opinion of the loudest voice when, indeed, there are times that person or group must be challenged.
I am not contending that certain behaviors in our culture don’t need to go away – permanently. It’s not okay to make generalizations about groups of people based on race, gender, socioeconomic level, intellectual abilities, disabilities, hair color, eye color, state they live in, country they came from, sexual preference, books they like or what side they prefer to lay on when they sleep. Not okay! But, we all pretty much know that and, for the most part, are conditioned to be…well, tolerant.
Then there are the groups that the politically correct crowd has decided are fair game for ridicule with absurd generalizations. Just try saying you are Christian, or God forbid…fundamentalist Christian. Throw in a splash of Republican slant and let the games begin. At this point you will become a woman hating, money hungry, uncompassionate, hypocritical homophobe. There are some who might be! The problem is embedded in thinking that everyone within a demographic feels, behaves and believes the same way. Further, the targeted group is judged without tolerance or giving an individual the respect to be heard.
My guess is some of you agreed with me regarding generalizations about race, gender, yada, yada, yada. But, when I got to the hot button buzzwords some polarized in one direction and others were crazed the other way. The thing is, political correctness only welcomes those groups that the politically correct movement chooses to accommodate. Those falling outside of their chosen agendas seem to be fair game to categorize and ridicule.
You also might be wondering why this rant is showing up in a blog that is traditionally focused on Christian spirituality. It’s pretty simple. Nowhere in scripture does Jesus attempt to sway anyone toward his beliefs with sarcasm or contempt for who they are or where they come from. He accepted – not tolerated – Samaritans, tax collectors, prostitutes, crazy people, women, Pharisees and an entire litany of fringe groups as he walked among us. Notice the word ‘us’? He didn’t stay away from or make fun of those people. It didn’t matter who they were! Nor did he arrogantly tolerate them. His compassion included full acceptance for the person he was talking to. It wasn’t about shaming them into thinking his way or accusing them of being less worthy of his time if they were different than him. He showed compassion for all and it was through that compassion that people grew beyond the prejudicial thoughts that bound them.
And, yes, there are fringe groups in all world religions that maintain radical beliefs that unless we look, think and believe with them, we are not worthy of God’s love. I prefer to let God make that determination, thank you very much. Again, if we believe that God loved the world and sent Christ to teach us God’s ways, then we must recognize that God loved the WORLD – not just my corner of it, or my particular group of cronies. Everyone is included in that love. Even the people we make fun of or shame or avoid because they don’t share our physical characteristics, lifestyle or beliefs.
Think of Picasso. Did you know that he not only painted, he created sculptures, ceramics, tapestries and drawings? Further, not all of his paintings are abstract. If I happen into a museum exhibiting his work, I may resonate with one piece over another, although I wouldn’t think to destroy the integrity of a painting or statue that I didn’t understand. Then, if I choose to study his life and art, I might begin to see the beauty in a piece that I previously dismissed. Maybe it will be in his use of color or in the grace or elegance depicted through the flow of lines in his subject. I might become so consumed with his works that I internalize the intimacies of his art and no longer need to look for his signature as a means to recognize the creator.
It is much like our relationship with God. It’s no coincidence that scripture begins with two equally beautiful descriptions of God’s joy in creating all that we know and exclaiming, “it is good”. I guess “good” includes cockroaches and snakes, although I’m not sure why. It also includes all those people who are different than me, as well as dogs, cats, tomatoes, trees and ponds. When I look at these things, not simply as objects around me, but rather as the art of God – the things God made – I recognize the artist’s love for each and every object in his/her collection and I learn to handle those items as if I truly believe they are good.
Ellen DeGeneres said it quite well in regard to her comedy:
Most comedy is based on getting a laugh at somebody else’s expense. And I find that that’s just a form of bullying in a major way. So I want to be an example that you can be funny and be kind, and make people laugh without hurting somebody else’s feelings.
Sometimes we bully to get a laugh, to make a point, to get a political vote or in a misguided attempt to elevate our own status or power. It’s never okay – not under the guise of political correctness or the equally offensive buzzword “tolerance”. It is okay to honestly and respectfully share perspectives and grow in acceptance of someone who is different than you, remembering all the while that you are indeed different to them as well.