We hear a lot about political correctness. You’ve probably heard people say things like ‘oh, that’s not politically correct’, or ‘that wasn’t a very politically correct thing to say’. It pervades almost every area of our lives – in some areas more than others.
You’ve probably also heard the saying ‘manners maketh the man’. I know I certainly heard it growing up. Manners were drummed into me from a very early age. Things like standing when an elder entered the room, opening the door for a lady, taking my hat off inside, table manners, conversational manners – I could go on. I suspect for many in my demographic this was the case. I’ve recounted a story before of a family friend, a doctor and true gentleman who referred to my grandmother always as ‘Mrs Vidins’, in the most respectful, humble way. His manners were always impeccable.
I’m sure you’ve come across people who have fantastic manners. The inverse is probably true too. I’ve certainly met people who come across as disgusting pigs – foul mouthed, disrespectful boors.
Political correctness is the idea that you are restrained by an outward force – a cultural norm, a policy, a coercive power. It coerces you to not say something, or do something, in the name of ‘offending’ someone, regardless of the truth or accuracy of the message. You may have bitten your tongue sometimes because you were worried, or feared about the repercussions of your words. I’ll give some examples. You might have wanted to question the effectiveness of our past, or current refugee processes, but didn’t because you were concerned about being called a racist. You may have wanted to raise your thoughts on same-sex marriage, but didn’t because you knew you’d be labelled a homophobe. Perhaps you had questions on the millions of dollars that were being spent on our indigenous brothers and sisters, without any identifiable increases in health, education, workplace participation or decreases in violence and abuse, but didn’t because you knew you’d be labelled as a hater.
It’s important to pause at this stage, because I’m sure some will think I’m pointing the finger at progressive, or left-wing political correctness. If you’re thinking that, you’re correct, I am. I’ve noticed the most intolerance has come from the left in our present age. It comes in the form of bullying, of the threat of legal action (s18c, anyone?), of having your businesses targeted (refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding). It even comes in the form of opposing a whole nation (the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish Boycott, Divestment & Sanction (BDS) movement). We see our politicians take a politically correct line when talking about terrorism. How often have you heard a prominent politician say a terrorist atrocity undertaken by a Muslim in the name of Allah has nothing to do with Islam? It’s like saying a drunk driver hitting and killing someone on the road has nothing to do with alcohol. Are all Muslims terrorists? OF COURSE NOT! Are all drunks likely to get behind the wheel and be a danger on the road? OF COURSE NOT! Political correctness is that outside force preventing you from speaking the truth, asking a question or voicing a concern because it may cause an offence, be taken the wrong way or cause a retaliation. It’s external.
Manners, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. The total opposite, in fact.
Manners come from a place of inner strength, a place of confidence. Manners isn’t cowardice, oh no. Manners, which goes hand in hand with self-restraint, comes from a place of steadfast conviction. Manners give you the confidence to articulate, not as a reaction, but as a confident position of concrete values. Manners comes from a place of seeking to understand first, to inquire, to test and to challenge, wanting the best, even if that means discomfort during the process.
Manners is an absolute inner process that regulates, analyses, tests and speaks from a place of conviction, with conviction. It comes from a place of respect – self-respect first, then respect for others. Manners is the practice of holding back, not out of fear of retaliation, but from understanding there is no point in an argument for the sake of an argument.
Political correctness is a fear that your words, or some actions will have dire ramifications either directly, or from a third party. Political correctness is suppressing the truth out of fear of retaliation. Despite what some argue, there are truths. There are universal truths. Biological truths. Scientific truths. Spiritual truths. Truths that have real implications for here, and the hereafter.
Manners always seeks the best, even when there is disagreement. It’s the dignified silence in the face of howled insults. Manners is the confidence of truth, spoken in earnest respect. It’s not a cowered, timid mumble. It’s not a brash bulldozer of anger.
Political correctness seeks to crush. It seeks to paint over truth with lies. It seeks to silence. It hates dissent. It fears the thinker. It scoffs at the one confident in truth. Political correctness employs all means necessary – shame, legislation, violence to silence and intimidate anything outside the ‘correct’ narrative. It uses name calling, lies, gross distortions and hatred to plough over and rip up. Political correctness hates free speech, free thought and debate. Intolerance is its mandate, coercion is its goal. It does it for power, for powers sake. It is never satisfied with enough.
Manners seeks to edify the individual. It seeks to understand, it seeks the truth, it proclaims what is right. Manners is the respectful debate of ideas. It’s the safe harbour where ideas flourish, where the individual is nourished. Manners come from a place of confidence, it extends the hand of respect. Manners doesn’t compromise the truth, and confidently invites others to seek it.
Let me tell you this. We need more people with manners, across the spectrum of ideas, ideals and thoughts. We absolutely need less political correctness. Next time you have a choice when it comes to the truth, what will you do? Will you cower to political correctness, or will you use your manners to confidently proclaim what is right?
Without a doubt, this whole internet thing has let a whole lot of stupid people be heard a whole lot more.
Every nutjob, fanatic, crazy, fundy, loony leftwing (is that an oxymoron?), wacky rightwing, conspiracy theorist specialist can get on the google machine and make themselves a webpage, then spout off any nonsense they want. Hell, even the Greens have a website and use the twitter, and they hate technology and development!
You’ll have friends on your Facebook account that say some whacky stuff that you totally don’t agree on. In fact, they’ll say things that downright infuriate you. I’ve even had to go for a walk after reading some things my friends have posted, or links they’ve shared!
Occasionally, I’ll jump into the torrent of controversy and post something (anyone remember my epic post about childrens’ dance concerts – let’s never speak of that again!), or respond to something that I disagree with. Naturally, the world sees that I am in fact correct, change their views are won over to my correct way of thinking. NOT!
Someone wise once told me that before you can believe what you believe, you need to know what you don’t believe and why you don’t believe that. Essentially, he was saying seek the truth.
Without a doubt, I’m ideologically libertarian. Socialism (or it’s even eviller twin Communism) really does not do it for me. I’m hardly progressive. Conservatism is useful but boring. Religiously, I’m Christian. I’ve had a read up of the other majors and know it’s the one for me. You could say almost everything I see, think, read and analyse is through those prisms. My fav blogs are the Cat and Instapundit (and possibly Visual News but that’s just poetry with pictures!).
Like I said above, I’ve got some friends that say some stuff that downright infuriates me. I couldn’t disagree more with them – usually. You know what? That’s what I love about them. I LOVE reading stuff I hate. Isn’t that strange! One of the thrills of being a human is to be able to reason. To have your own opinion, ideology, beliefs and to be able to understand others.
As I get older, my views seem to crystalise more. I see the fruits of an ideology and think ‘that’s just not for me’. I also begin to see the flaws in my own ideology.
I heart capitalism. I believe in the free market and the idea that someone can work their way to prosperity. I loathe this tall poppy syndrome we have here in Australia. I often get baffled how socialists and progressives want to tax the snot out of someones efforts, only to give it to the lazy.
Here’s the rub – as I look at capitalism, it’s plain to see the obscene disparity between rich and poor. It’s exponentially harder for a kid from a broken family with unemployed parents to get ahead in life. Why should that kid be punished because of the idiocy of their parents? This is why I need my progressive, lefty friends. This is why I need my unionist buddies to remind me of some of the craziness of this capitalist system that I love. Sometimes I need my more conservative friends to show me the permissiveness that libertarian views give.
I know this isn’t the same for everyone on the internet, but I’m thankful for my friends that I disagree with. I know their motivations – a free Australia, a fair go, justice, helping those in need – things that make this great nation of ours even greater. Sure, I might think the way they want to do that is crazy, but I know where they’re coming from. I know their motivations arn’t malicious (usually!) – they want the best for our country.
As I read posts, websites and facebook shares of things I disagree with, I constantly ask myself ‘why do I disagree with this’, or ‘why does this post make me want to stab progressives in the eye with a soldering iron’. More often then not, it’s because the post is idiotic and stupid. But sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something in there that makes me think ‘man, I got it so wrong on that point’. It’s in those times, I’m even more thankful of my friends that I disagree with.
So if you’re one of those friends that I’ve disagreed with (and you’ve managed to read this dross until this point), thanks for sharing your opinions with the world on Facebook. You’ve given me literally minutes of chuckles, hours of rage and often, moments where I need to eat humble pie.
I need you to help me remember why I believe what I believe and why I don’t believe what I don’t believe.
image from http://www.nrl.com/what-origin-means-to-mark-geyer/tabid/10874/newsid/78681/default.aspx
I’ve noticed a trend on social media (especially Facebook) for the current topic of Christian conversation to be about biblical ‘perspectives’ on current issues. You don’t need to spend much time on social media without coming across a myriad of opinions on gay marriage, asylum seekers, the current state of politics in Australia or poverty.
Without a doubt, Christians should have an opinion on these things. Even a cursory read of the Bible will uncover values such as charity, kindness, goodwill, justice, forgiveness and right-living.
I just can’t help think that current western Christian thought has been hijacked by distractions. By current issues. By things that will divide, annoy and frustrate. By things that, to me, don’t define faith or lead towards drawing closer to Christ. I compare what seems to be the western Christian agenda with what is happening through the north of Africa and through the Middle East. I wonder if the Copts are having discussions about gay marriage? What about a secret home-church in China? Are they debating the ‘Churches’ response to climate change, or are they just hungry to get even a bible in their hands? What about the Nigerian Christian, going to church, wondering if his daughters are going to be captured by Boko Harum. Does he argue on Facebook on his opinions of the Big Bang, or does he literally pray for his life every day?
What I’m saying is why don’t western Christians talk about the Bible anymore? Why don’t we see conversations on Facebook or Twitter about a life-changing verse you’ve just read, or a passage that’s recently challenged your faith? At last count, I had a whopping 283 Facebook friends (and probably less after people read this!). Of those, do you know how many write about the Bible? One. Only one (and it’s not me!).
I could read a million posts on some ‘Christian’ perspective on a controversial hot topic and not understand the nature of the Lord one iota. I could read the post by that one and learn more in three minutes of reading than in pages of current dross.
What do you think? Why would Christians rather argue some controversial topic, rather than spend their time in actually reading the Bible? I’m talking to myself here, too.
How would you explain to a persecuted Christian in the Middle East that you’d rather spend your time arguing for marriage equality, rather than reading your Bible?
My grandparents came to Australia fleeing the terrors of Communism in Europe. My grandmother tells of her shock when the Communist Party of Australia was gaining political traction and wondered out loud why the Government didn’t ban the CPA. Her neighbour gave her wise counsel:
“Olga, if you ban these groups, they go underground, the consolidate, they grow in power. The only way to expose these groups is to allow them, to highlight them, to publicly critique and converse with them. Then the truth will come out and people will surely see the CPA for what they are”
In Australia, there is a lot of talk about a certain Act limiting free speech, especially in relation to Racial Discrimination. The ‘Left’ of politics are claiming that restrictions on free speech are required, lest differing groups are offended, insulted or miffed in some way. They claim that restrictions are required to prevent bigotry, racism and negative stereotyping. The ‘Right’ of politics claim that any restrictions on free speech is a slippery slope – legislation with noble intent used to muffle genuine free speech and freedom of expression.
Martin Luther King Jnr famously and excellently dreamed:
I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
My thoughts? Like the counsel that was given my grandmother many moons ago, I think we should encourage free speech, not limit it. Working in the Public Service, I’ve found you can’t legislate against stupidity. If someone want’s to bang on about a religion, a lifestyle, a race, a thought, a brand of car, a football team, a cheese – what ever it is, let them bang on about it. If you don’t agree with it, speak up. Let’s bring out these ideas, challenge them openly.
I’m totally against discrimination – both positive and negative. I’ve written about my thoughts on racism in Australia and truly believe that Australian’s are welcoming and open, not ‘racist rednecks’ as some would suppose.
You can’t legislate against racism. You might be able to legislate against a behaviour, but not a thought, a motivation, a belief, a desire. Yeah, you might be able to stop someone from saying something terribly offensive like nigger, chinky-chonk or dune-coon. What you can’t stop is a bunch of disenfranchised group of people organising, petitioning, forming a voting block and punching back twice as hard when election time comes around.
If someone is being racist, call it out. If someone is the victim of racism, come to their aid. If someone is doing their people a dis-service by mis-representing them, correct them.
Limiting free speech limits critique and dialogue. Guess what? There will be idiots who abuse free speech, who will say terrible things, who will think terrible things. The last thing we want is for these ideas to go underground. We want to bring them to the light, shine a mirror on discrimination and racism and show it for the evil that it is.
We live in the age of information. Pretty much anyone these days can publish their views – on line, in print, standing on the street corner. Never before has there been such a free-flow of information, ideas and thoughts. We are constantly being challenged, informed, encouraged. Let’s not limit that precious flow of information.
Picture lifted from http://www.futurescopes.com/advice/104/why-men-dont-listen-women