I have been giving a lot of thought to the concept of political correctness.  I say the concept because I don’t hear the phrase spoken much anymore, and it seems this may be due to the fact that it has literally permeated society.  And, I wonder what it has done, and does, to our ability to be honest and trustful.

I am learning that protecting and caring are not mutually inclusive.  For instance, with my children, I strive to do less of keeping the world from them than supporting their understanding of it.  I don’t see the point in protecting them after the fact from anything to which they’ve been exposed.  I believe we are meant to have the experiences we do and that trying to save my children from their experiences by not addressing the truth of those experiences does not serve them.  If I think for a moment that an experience is “not allowed”, I may shy away from addressing it with my children.

Along these lines, I find that political correctness more often perpetuates the same misunderstanding and intolerance it may have meant to resolve.  If I am told to be a certain way, if the choice is not mine – to be more respectful for instance, am I really more respectful?  I may appear more respectful, but do you really have my respect? 

I can see where political correctness sought to bypass the time necessary to empower people’s choices through awareness, understanding and practice.  Such a process takes time and effort.  By bypassing the opportunity to have people understand and make better choices for themselves, we now have, all too many perhaps, people who have actually become disconnected from how they feel or what they think about things because it “isn’t allowed”, it isn’t “politically correct”.  Being so caught up in the need to appear “politically correct”, prejudices and hatred have been buried into subconscious and reveal themselves in the active polarization of groups and society.

If we cannot be honest with ourselves about how we feel or what we think, how can we be honest with others?  If we cannot be honest with others, how can we possibly work through our differences?  For me, polarization is symptomatic of the need for honesty toward working through real differences.  If we are living a “politically correct” existence, how can we be real and truly make a difference in the world?

Most graciously,

~ Jacqueline

Something has got to give.  If you haven’t read it, Hofstede’s Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind has a lot of great insight.  I’d like to share a piece with you here.   Hofstede refers to differences between cultures that have either a short-term or long-term orientation.  One of these differences is the axiom that serves as the code to how cultures approach differences.  The axioms are that we can look at our differences in two ways:  1) If A is true, it’s opposite B must be false or 2) If A is true, it’s opposite B can also be true.  Within the broader text, the second axiom goes further to say … and together they produce a wisdom superior to either A or B.

There are a number of interpretations that might be drawn.  Win-Lose vs Win-Win being one.  When we are able to accept another’s perspective and appreciate both our own needs and those of another or others, with time, attention and effort, we are often able to produce a greater solution.  One could argue that such ability is key to innovation.  Perspectives come together to find a solution taking into account as many angles as exist perspectives.  This brings to mind how valuable diversity of thought can be when we are able to transcend our need to win at another’s expense and appreciate and assimilate alternate viewpoints.

The question is raised, how does this happen?  How do we create such a situation?  I submit it starts with creating a foundation of trust, starting with self trust, which inevitably builds our trust of others.  Because we see the world as we are, when we trust ourselves, we in turn trust the world around us.  Such trust enables us to approach others and situations trusting unknown intent.  We drop the assumption of bad intent and replace it with good.  Just following the 80/20 rule, a vast majority of the time, especially within communities, whether neighborhood or professional, we are going to encounter trustworthiness.  I would go so far as to argue that even half of the 20% encompasses misinterpreation and miscommunication.

Folks, there is more positive than negative in our world.  It is simply our focus on the negative that magnifies it.  We want more of the same than our need to “win” will let us realize.  So next time someone has a different view than you, practice listening with heart.  You might just hear something familiar.  I’m willing to bet on it.

Hugs,

Jacqueline