We're only one day away from a new Presidential term, and I know that most people (myself included) are just about exhausted from all the rhetoric on both sides. So instead of adding wood to the inferno, I thought it might be nice to write a bit about what makes us human.
The phrase "politically correct" has an extremely negative connotation. To most of us, it means that you're saying what you're 'supposed to say' and not what you want. Instead of referring to your friend as gay, you may sometimes feel the need to use the term homosexual. Instead of contrasting a black person against a white, you feel the need to say African American. The belief is that politically correct phrases keep people from getting their feelings hurt. It's for that reason that many of us have at one point or another, felt that political correctness waters down the dialogue. But if there is one thing for which I will relentlessly fight, it is dialogue.
The moment that we stop believing in the humanity of those who belief differently than us is the exact moment when we have lost any hope for life.
Words are just words, what's the big deal?
The big deal is that language defines our existence. From the time we are first born we begin the process of categorization. Categories are useful tools when it comes to the very basic human functions. For instance, learning that it is right to share and wrong to hoard is a lesson every pre schooler should learn. But somewhere in the mix, we've created a very powerful false dichotomy which I believe is currently overruling our nation and limiting any chance of cooperation.
That false dichotomy is "us vs. them"
Here's the deal, I believe that there are very few (if any) people in this world who completely believe in every action taken by every member of their respected political party. Politicians on all sides have dropped the ball and excelled throughout history and it's deductive and stupid to suggest otherwise. It's for that reason that I'm really tired of the liberal vs. conservative motif. Regardless of which side you find yourself on, you'll find that the rhetoric still boils down to "us vs. them." My team vs. your team.
The truth is we're all
I was recently called a liberal and it really offended me. I wasn't offended because I resent the title or because I have completely conservative beliefs, but rather because this person was willing to reduce all of my personal beliefs into one word. They heard me talk about one issue and immediately decided that I fit into the category of people who are for big government, abortion, government intervention, and a slew of other unrelated issues. To be honest, I do have liberal beliefs but I also have plenty of conservative ones. I oftentimes find myself torn between wanting the government to do the most good for the most people also just staying the heck out of our way.
To be fair, I don't think it is completely our fault. In a modern age of fact checkers, red vs. blue politics, and more information than we could ever sift through, it can be really easy to just pick a side which serves the most of our desires. In fact, this is probably a pretty good voting strategy. Instead of micro analyzing every policy, we pick which team most aligns with us and we go with it. The operative word in the last sentence is "most."
But just because we vote that way doesn't mean we need to reduce our friends, coworkers, and families to the same opposing belief systems. Just because you don't like Obama, you shouldn't call democrats terrible people and attack their personal beliefs. Political correctness matters because a lack of it can close the lines of communication permanently.
I would have much preferred that person to suggest that my particular belief on that particular issue was liberal. Am I being too nit picky? I don't think so, but I could be wrong.
We live in a complex world and I will be the first to admit that I don't have all the answers, but that is in no way a failure on my part. I am more than willing to discuss politics because that's how I learn. But I have never in my entire life, felt a desire to cooperate with a person who was being reductive and hateful.
I hope we all think about this tomorrow and for the next 4 years. No matter who wins or loses, we're all in this together.