We cannot discuss political correctness without speaking about prejudice and stereotypes. After all, a person who is politically correct (or PC) is someone who seeks to set right the injustices done in the past by prejudice and stereotyping specifically by changing or avoiding language that may offend those people. Reality check moment…We are all prejudice to one degree or another. And we all stereotype to one degree or another. Regardless of whether we censor those sentiments or not. Here’s an example, you’re stereotyping when you say, black people are good dancers. It just so happens that this doesn’t offend most black people so it isn’t politically incorrect to say it. You’re stereotyping when you say, white people can’t dance. It just so happens that even if it does offend white people to say it, it isn’t politically incorrect to say it because whites are still expected to pay for the offenses of slavery. Now if you said, anything negative about black people, such as black people can’t swim, that would be politically incorrect because it is a social expectation that we redress the social injustice of slavery by never saying anything to offend black people.
In today’s world, speaking can be a bit like walking on broken glass. Political correctness is determined for you by the social group you interact with and grow up around. And you can bet different social groups do not agree on what is and isn’t politically incorrect. The more importance social groups place on appropriateness and social standards, the more dedicated they are to political correctness. But incase you haven’t noticed, it’s damn near impossible to genuinely express the truth of how you feel and what you think without offending someone. The desire to speak in a way that doesn’t hurt others is a noble enough cause. In fact, I did a whole video about the subject of speaking in a way that does not hurt other people. You should watch it; it’s called “Authenticity vs. Just Being An Asshole”. But let’s be honest, a genuine bigot will not be reading an article about political correctness, they’re not worried about offending people and thus looking bad, so this article is for the rest of you. Those of you who can’t stand the idea of saying what you really think and feel incase it offends someone and you come out looking like a bad guy.
So what is the problem with political correctness? If you’re being politically correct, you aren’t doing it to genuinely decrease suffering. You are not being honest, you’re being careful… Careful to look good. Being politically correct does nothing to address the real issues that political correctness is supposed to redress. It allows everyone to be covertly prejudice and covertly stereotype whilst condemning anyone else who does. I am going to offend people right now when I say what I’m about to say and that is that while there are always exceptions to every stereotype, most stereotypes wouldn’t exist in the first place if there was nothing backing them up. We can either become offended that the stereotype exists and demand to be dis-included from it, or we can live our lives out of accordance with the stereotype and simply allow people’s stereotyping to be disproven. For example, I am a spiritual person. It is a stereotype that spiritual people are all irresponsible. It may be offensive. I may not feel like I fit the stereotype. But if I’m honest, a ton of the people who I meet that identify themselves as spiritual are in fact quite irresponsible people. So I can either get upset at the stereotype and demand it isn’t true based on me or demand to be dis-included from it or continue to live in a responsible way and allow people to for a different opinion about spiritual people based on me.
Political correctness has fueled taboo. It has made certain topics off limits and so we can’t ever really express our sometimes painful emotional and mental truth directly enough to get anywhere with our communication or solve problems relating to those truths. It has made it so we can’t get comfortable with each other. We’re always in “performance mode” manipulating people’s opinions of us while hiding our genuine selves. It is important to see that we can’t engage in any meaningful discussion relative to taboo subjects if we are unwilling to reveal our true feelings and thoughts. We are fueling negative diversity and separation by prohibiting open communication in this way. When we are so careful about certain groups of people, we acknowledge and treat them as a separate group. Also, we are fueling shame. If we think or feel in a certain way that we have been taught is an unacceptable way to think and feel, we begin to condemn ourselves. The fact that we “shouldn’t” think or feel a certain way does nothing to change the fact that we do, so we’re convinced something is wrong with us or bad about us.
You want a harsh truth? There are a lot of deep truths that don’t feel good to face. There a lot of deep truths that may offend people and piss them off. There are a lot of deep truths within you that may not cast you in the greatest light. And it is important for the sake of authenticity to expose those truths so they can be meaningfully addressed. It is important to say what you mean and mean what you say. As a spiritual teacher, I find it discouraging that many of us would rather hear a direct lie than to hear someone say something politically incorrect. If we constantly censor ourselves relative to anything that might be controversial or offensive or taboo, we will end up in a prison of restricted expression and self-righteous moral indignation. Many of us are content to engage with others with not just one elephant in the room, but a whole herd of them in the room. If we can't talk about taboo subjects, If we can’t talk about our prejudices and stereotyping, if we can’t talk about the differences that puzzle us, or things we're genuinely curious about, without fear of giving offense, then how can we ever come up with actual solutions to problems? How can we overcome our internal pain or even our ignorance about each other?
I’m calling for an end to the constrictive gag order we impose upon ourselves and each other. I challenge you to be open about your prejudices and stereotypes. Be open about them and open to changing them. Be open about not wanting to state your current truth because of the fear of not looking good. Be open to talking about the taboo. Expose the elephant in the room. Expose the unsavory truths that you are tiptoeing around. Be authentic even if that authenticity isn’t going to be applauded by everyone around you and even if it isn’t going to guarantee the vote. If you get voted in by not meaning what you say and saying what you don’t mean, you didn’t win the vote anyway, your carefully crafted socially acceptable façade did.
The next time you feel yourself trying to carefully put things in a way that will not offend anyone and thus keep you looking good, just uncork the bottle and tell it like it is in it’s raw, unfiltered form. Say what you mean. Be brave enough to verbalize the truth as you see it. Be as brave enough to verbalize truth as you see it as you are brave enough to see a different truth or to have that truth proven wrong. Tiptoe talk is hollow. It lacks substance because there is none of you in it. It is like frosting with no cake underneath. And you’re never going to be able to be careful enough to avoid offending everyone. Besides, wouldn’t you rather be able to directly converse about something you actually think or feel, even if it is offensive, rather than pretend you don’t think or feel that way? Wouldn’t you rather vote or not vote for a political candidate based on the solid foundation of how they truly felt or thought? I urge you as part of your spiritual practice to care more about your actual raw, truth as opposed to looking good to others. I urge you to embrace the integrity of saying what you mean and meaning what you say. I urge you to expose the taboo and openly converse about everything, even if the subject is sensitive and might offend. Only then will we see any genuine or lasting positive change. Only then can we come together instead of fuel our differences. Take your political correctness and metaphorically set it on fire. See what it feels like to be free.