Thursday, May 12, 2016

Politically Correct or Socially Aware?

I would like to propose a new word to use instead of the term "Politically Correct". I'd prefer be called "Socially Aware".

As the term implies, "Political Correctness" claims to define what's correct and incorrect. It screams at us if we say something wrong, or express the wrong opinion. "Socially Aware" invites us to look at what's really at the heart of the problem, and to respond with compassion, even if the wrong word accidentally slips out of our mouth.

I find the "Political Correct" mindset legalistic. It leads to polarisation. It insinuates that one is either in or out, and if one fails to be correct on one or two points, one is all the way out.

At its best, it's not the ideal way of showing compassion to the downtrodden and administering social justice. Too often, it's the faรงade which justifies hating the perpetrators of injustice more than we love the victims of it. Hate is never a good motivation for justice. While it might move the crowds more quickly, the fruit of it is never sweet. The only motive for social justice is to have compassion on the victims, while recognising that the perpetrators of the injustice are also its victims.

So, I don't claim to be "Politically Correct", but I do want to express how I feel about some of those injustices, while separating the true injustice from the ones artificially created by the name-calling. I also want to seek out helpful solutions to those injustices, ones that truly enable the marginalised people-groups without creating more problems; solutions not based on revenge, that don't idolise the victim, and that recognise that the perpetrators of injustice are often also the victims of previous injustice. I want to talk about solutions that look forward to the day when the wounded party can truly get on with life without being hindered by the pain of the past.

For-instance, I believe that Native Americans have not been dealt with fairly, and that we who claim a Christian heritage have a lot to answer for in regards to American history (some of my own ancestors on my mother's side were white settlers in Western Ohio during the Indian wars of the 1700s).

I believe that the Irish have been dealt with cruelly and unfairly by the British in our history, and that Protestant attitudes have added to the problem (some of my ancestors on my father's side signed the Ulster Covenant, declaring their stand as Protestants in opposition to a Catholic Ireland. I'm also an Ulster Scots on my mother's side).

I also believe that America has yet to fully come to terms with the slavery of Black people in their history, and that many black people are correct in their perception that they are not accepted wholeheartedly into white society -- even among whites that claim "political correctness". I've been among them long enough to know that, plus, I was raised as a minority (a white living among brown-skinned people). Also, my wife is Asian, and she often feels the same rejection. It's a fact.

I also believe that many many Moslems simply want to live peacefully among the communities of the nations of their adoption. They are caught between those in the general population who perceive them as possible terrorists, and the radical fringe groups within their own community who are trying to push them towards radicalisation.

And, I believe that Jesus' command to show compassion to the poor and to assist the downtrodden -- sic. the refugee -- takes precedence over our fear that there might be one or two terrorists among the refugee population. The mandate He gave His followers was to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, be hospitable to strangers and make disciples; not make the world a safe place for our own kind.

On the other hand, does being "Politically Correct" mean we're not allowed to acknowledge that certain problems exist? Can we recognise the needs of countries like Israel to take necessary measures to ensure security for their citizens (which includes Jews and Moslems)? Or, is it even politically correct to admit that Israel has a right to exist as a nation? What about recognising that Moslems and other groups in Israel are treated far better than Jews are in most Moslem countries?

Does being "Politically Correct" mean that one religion has the right to be offended, but another religion doesn't? Why does a borough council that allows a local mosque to broadcast their call to prayer over a p.a. system not allow nativity scenes and church bells because they offend the Moslem community? Mind you, I don't care that much about church bells and nativity scenes. I was raised in a country where I was a minority, and we didn't have those things. My Christian duty is to tolerate an offence directed at me rather than allow my lifestyle to offend others, except through the Cross of Christ. That, in itself, is already offensive enough. However, in my mind, Church bells and nativity scenes have very little to do with the Cross of Christ -- and for that matter, so do ornate gold crosses that we like to wear*. However, I can still recognise a double standard when it appears in the name of "political correctness".

So, for me, "politically correct" is an inadequate word. I'd prefer to call myself "socially aware".

* I hope my Catholic and High Church brothers and sisters don't take offence. I'm not against gold crucifixes, but I'm sure that they also recognise that it's by the true Cross of Christ that we're saved by, which emanates from inside.