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?
Lose weight. Work less. Be kinder to my family. Listen more. Take time to smell the roses. Enjoy sunrises. Read more. Exercise.
If 2016 has taught me anything, it’s that freedom of speech is more important than ever. It’s taught me that there’s people from both sides of the political spectrum that prefer to use insults and smear to respond to things that cross their sensibilities (or insensibilities!). I’ve learned that there’s a huge movement against free thinking. There seems to be people, ideologies and movements that want to police your very thoughts and closely held beliefs.
2016 has taught me that there are people that are very well prepared to label uncomfortable facts as an ‘ism’ or a ‘phobia’. 2016 has taught me that there are some people who’s default response to my beliefs, thoughts or ideology is to call me all manner of things, without actually asking, engaging or seeking to find out the why of these beliefs.
I’ve found that there’s a large swathe of people, like myself, who for too long have been polite. Perfectly rational, normal people who for too long have bitten their tongue, either publically or privately. People that have literally been too scared to voice conservative or libertarian viewpoints. Kind, hard working, compassionate people who have been scared to speak out on important issues because any dissenting view gets dubbed as racist, intolerant, bigoted, nationalist, unkind or uncaring.
2016 has taught me that there are people who passionately argue ‘against the rich’, but never say how much of their own personal income or assets should be ‘redistributed’.
2016 has taught me that there are Christians who worship a Jesus who’s big on acceptance but silent on all that horrible sin stuff, mute on repentance and uncomfortable with a Sovereign Lord.
2016 has taught me that there’s a stack of people who resent being told what to do. That there seems to be a class of people who make decisions based on good intentions, rather that good outcomes. It’s taught me that even within a so called Liberal party, there are people who want to placate and pander to illiberal policies and outcomes.
So if 2016 has taught me anything, it’s that my opinion is worth just as much as anyone elses. It’s taught me that I’ve still got a voice, and I’m still going to use it. It’s reminded me that freedom of speech, freedom of thought and liberty are more important than ever. It’s reminded me that I will not be told what to think, or say, and I’m not going to be silent.
So my resolution for 2017 is to remove the shackles of politeness and timid silence. I don’t expect to ruffle any feathers or change anyone’s opinion. I’m not looking to cause a stir or be unkind. I’m just resolving in 2017 to exercise my voice. It’s probably the only exercise I’ll do!
My Pop often recalls a story of his younger years, when he joined the Air Force. Before enlisting, his Sunday School teacher gave him some sage advice. He told my Pop:
“Roy, nail your colours to the pole, and fly them high”
His Sunday School teacher was encouraging my Pop to stand fast to his faith, his morality, his beliefs. On the first night in training, surrounded by all his new mates, my Pop knelt by his bed, closed his eyes and prayed. To this day, he tells me he honestly can’t remember what he prayed for – he just prayed!
His daily prayers continued through training, his comrades got used to this routine and would respect my Pop for nailing his colours to the pole, and flying them high. In fact, one day one of his superiors was giving him a bit of stick for his faith and praying – to which his mates gathered around him and told the superior to back off!
“Nail your colours to the pole, and fly them high”.
Why do I tell this anecdote?
I read in todays local rag that our Council will be flying the Rainbow Flag on top of the City Council building. For the un-initiated, the Rainbow Flag is a calling point for Gay, Lesbian, Queer, Transexual, Bisexual (essentially, non-hetrosexual) people. This lobby have ‘pressured’ the Council to fly this flag on the Council building to mark International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. The story tells that our Lord Mayor resisted similar calls last year, but has relented this year.
I believe a city, a state and a nation should rally around the flag. It should be a unifying point. A rallying point.
Here me out – this blog isn’t against any particular sexual identity, it’s not a stand against tolerance or understanding. I’m not anti-inclusiveness.
Here in Australia, specifically New South Wales and Queensland, we have a ‘State of Origin’ football match. Traditionally, the losing state flies the winning states flag on either the Sydney Harbour Bridge or Story Bridge for a day after the final game. It’s a bit of fun, it shows friendly rivalry and lumps a heap of shame upon the losing team!
When an army invades territory, it plants a flag, indicating the territory has been overtaken. We are seeing this almost every day in the Middle East, with the evil empire ISIS stomping across that barren land.
When I see any group (a sexual identity, a religious group, a group of supposed victims) fly their flag on a Government building, the flag that is flying becomes a point of division, not a point of unity.
It tells me that, in this case, the Government is NOT nailing their own colours to the pole and they are NOT flying them high. It’s siding with a particular group, a particular cause, a particular people – not the whole electorate they have sworn to represent.
You might not ‘agree’ with the Flag. Our own Australian flag holds the insignia of the United Kingdom. Many terrible things have happened under our flag, but many great things have happened, too.
I don’t often agree with the decisions our government makes (from both sides of the spectrum), but I do believe in Australia. I believe in Queensland (the Promised Land!!). I love Brisbane. But I’m proud that our Government buildings fly their respective flags. You might scoff, but the Government is responsible for the decisions it makes under the flag. Are ‘designated victim groups’ responsible for Government decisions made in Government buildings? Not on your nelly!
This silly business of flying the Rainbow Flag on a Government Building does not promote a cause. It promotes a victim mentality and waves a flag of exclusiveness, not inclusiveness. A cause may be noble and good, but it’s no excuse to fly an alternative flag on a Government building.
It might start with a Rainbow Flag, but when will the next ‘designated victim group’ want to fly their flag on our Government buildings?
In Australia, we still have some free speech available. If you want to fly a Rainbow Flag (or an ISIS Flag, or a Swastika, or a foreign national flag), you’re free to do that on your own. Push your own barrel.
Don’t waste my Governments time on ‘symbolic’ gestures, wasting resources on your own cause.
I’m proud of my country, my state and my cities flag. That’s the only one I want flying on my Government buildings. I want it flying high, and I want it flying proud.
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
Only a few months ago, I lived in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood. In the townhouse I lived in, there were 45 dwellings. Of that, there were five ‘white’ Australian families. The rest were a mixture of Afgani, Sudaneese, Somalian, Pakistani, Islander, Indian, Bangladeshi, Iranian and Iraqis. Most were first or second generation refugees to Australia. With one or two exceptions, they all attended the local mosque.
For the most part, they kept to themselves and we kept to ourselves. Some were very friendly, inviting us over for tea, others would not even say hello. We met some wonderful people – hardworking, family orientated, friendly and engaging. Some were only too happy to talk to me about their faith, about the rumblings they had about the atrocities done in the name of their faith and take pride on how they had incorporated themselves into Australian society.
We were happy in Kuraby, although we felt very out of place.
Late last year, you may have read about it, there was a ‘brawl’ between two bike gangs on the Gold Coast. One of the bikies who was charged came from Kuraby, and was a prominent member of the local Muslim community. It was after that, we thought that it would take one ‘incident’ (such as an AFP / ASIO terror raid or something similar) and that would be the sign for us to move.
As it happened, we were broken in the very next day. We were broken in by people who we went out of our way to help, who we let into our house and extended hospitality to. That was all the motivation we needed to move. Shortly after that, our house was listed for sale and sold.
When we lived in Kuraby, my wife and I would often talk about the implications of living in that neighborhood. Not many people know this, but under Australia’s anti-terror laws, it’s possible for the relevant authorities to ‘lock down’ entire suburbs, should the risk arise. After every incident that occurred with terrorism abroad (think the London train bombings, the Bali bombings and Madrid bombings, not to mention a swathe of occurrences though the Middle East), we would wonder if there would be any local repercussions.
Right now, the Islamic State is butchering its way through Syria and Iraq, savagely murdering anyone who wont ‘convert’ to their brand of Islam. Sitting in Brisbane, Australia, it’s easy to think ‘that’s terrible’ and continue to drink my morning coffee…
Today’s headlines told me that the Australian Federal Police have executed warrants and made arrests on an Islamic bookshop in Underwood, the next suburb over, and arrested two individuals, one who lived in the next street over to our old townhouse in Kuraby. As soon as I read the headlines, I called my wife up, who was at the Underwood shops at the time. We are both so thankful that we moved out of that neighborhood, away from that scene.
As terrible as this sounds, it was easier to ‘ignore’ terror when it was in another continent. You try not to believe that there are people that you probably crossed paths with, caught the train with, shopped with that subscribe to such an evil ideology. When these incidents occur, however, it makes it all seem just that step closer.
I know it might be easy to get cynical and think that these arrests are of a political nature, aimed to whip up fear, to divide and rule, to demonise a minority or to try to lurch Australia ‘to the Right’. I guess in rebuttal, you only need to see what IS are doing through Syria & Iraq that they are already doing a fine job of creating an environment of fear – a much better job then any Aussie pollie or bureaucrat could cook up!
So I guess what I’m asking is how do you respond to terror? This is the dilemma that I am facing now. I’ve long believed that you can’t bomb an ideology away. You can raise a city with an A-bomb, but you can’t nuke a faith, a belief or ideology. Do I reconcile this with thinking that in Australia, it’s a simple law-and-order issue, and trust the police and courts to prosecute crimes against Australia and Australians? I know it’s a long bow to draw, but just look at Rotherham to see how well it happened there. Do you fight fire with fire and attack this ideology with a stronger ideology?
How do you love your neighbor in this situation? How does a libertarian, such as myself, trust the individual to make decisions for himself when those decisions he is making are the polar opposite of freedom and liberty?
How do you deal with terrorism, especially when it’s evil ideology is sleeping in your neighborhood, waiting for a violent rousing?
Image from http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/two-held-after-raids-face-charges-of-recruiting-funding-syria-fighters/story-e6frg6nf-1227053842612
I read an interesting article in the Australian website Online Opinion entitled ‘Democracy and diversity: Media Ownership in Australia’. The author, an Australian school student Daniel Vadori essentially argued that Rupert Murdoch’s News Media should be curtailed, as he believed his news empire was both too big and had the power to sway elections.
My thoughts? The last time I checked, Australians had a democratic right to choose what news they chose to consume and chose not to consume. There’s no doubt that a few ‘big players’ dominate the Australian media – News Corp, Fairfax and of course our ABC. There’s a stack of smaller media players – from a simple twitter poster, to a local blogger, to other online news and opinion sources – Quadrant Online, Eureka Street, The Big Issue and The Guardian to name a few.
There’s no argument that we (for the most part) live in a capitalistic society. A newspaper proprietor (save for the ABC) has two responsibilities – to report the news and to turn a profit. They need to balance both. Report totally unbiased facts? Great journalism but will it turn a dollar? Report sensationalist headlines and shock opinions? Believe it or not, but the population laps it up. More people reading the paper = more advertising dollars. A big newspaper is one that reports what the people want to read.
As I’ve said before, if you try to regulate an opinion, you run the risk of driving it underground and making it more popular. The forbidden fruit is always sweeter! Don’t like someone’s editorial line? You have three options. You can:
a/ Not care and not buy that newspaper;
b/ Write a counter opinion and publish itl
c/ Buy another newspaper with opinions more favourable to your liking.
You might be able to regulate media ownership. Would you try to regulate a car industry, if Toyota was selling too many cars? What about the orange industry, if one farmer was selling too many oranges? Sure, the orange industry might not have dramatic implications to democracy, but the concepts are the same.
Do we really want the Government to be telling us what we can and can’t read? I certainly don’t! I get (and agree with) media ownership rules and would argue they are quite fine as they are. But to want more legislation and ‘tougher regulation’ because a media outlet is selling more newspapers? That’s anti-democratic.
Let Australians read what they want. Don’t like the idea? Challenge it – while you can.
This is not an endorsement for any news proprietor of any persuasion