Missing the Point of Politics

The trouble with “political correctness” is that it puts the cart before the horse. There is nothing wrong with trying to be sensitive to the feelings of others, cognizant of your own complicity in evil (even if only by inaction), appreciative of your unearned good fortune, responsible in your interactions with people – gasp – and the environment, wise and exemplary in your life choices, kind, generous, tolerant and caring. The problem arises when you try to think independently with all these caveats taking precedence over what you think or say.

I contend that you need to decide what you think first, and only then try to fit your conclusions into interstices in the lattice of mandatory or forbidden policies.

This is impossible, of course, because many of the lattice sites are defects: a lot of politically correct pre- or proscriptions are stupid ideas, born of a misguided or lazy compulsion to reduce everything to a few simple rules.

Hey, I know about this compulsion first-hand; I’m a Physicist! But, as Einstein once said, “Physics should be made as simple as possible – but no simpler!” The same goes double for politics.

So when you allow yourself to think independently of all the constraints of political correctness, you are bound to run into trouble: you will find that you don’t agree with the rules set by well-meaning, charitable “liberals” any more than you agree with the rules set by cynical, self-serving “conservatives”. This is bound to make your life difficult.

Well, duh! You thought life should be simple and easy?

The good news is that if you actually know what you think, you are less likely to be afraid to hear what others think. You may be able to hear them out, understand their point of view and argue amiably with them in a way that encourages them to hear what you have to say.

Sounds simple, eh? So how come it is a lost art today?

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