Exploring “politically correct”

I sometimes come across someone who sees “politically correct” as undesirable, so I got curious and wanted to explore it a little further.

There is the official definition of politically correct:

Political correctness (adjectivally, politically correct; both forms commonly abbreviated to PC) is a term applied to language, ideas, policies, or behavior seen as seeking to minimize offense to gender, racial, cultural, disabled, aged or other identity groups. Conversely, the term “politically incorrect” is used to refer to language or ideas that may cause offense or that are unconstrained by orthodoxy. [Wikipedia]

And then politically correctness in a more general sense, as avoiding what may offend others.

Obviously, in that general sense, whether we are politically correct or not depends on our company. For instance, if we pride ourselves on not being politically correct, and are in a group of people who agree, then that becomes politically correct…!

As soon as we make something into a belief and identity, we automatically find ourselves doing that which we try to exclude. I try to be politically incorrect, find others who agree, and suddenly realize that being politically incorrect is now what is politically correct.

Then there is the limitations we put on ourselves if we make it into a belief. As soon as I take on an identity as someone who is not politically correct, I limit my views and actions. I have to spend time and energy making sure I don’t say or do things that could be perceived as politically correct, and I try to control – and sometimes cut myself off from – impulses that naturally would like to move freely among the terrain of what can be perceived as politically correct or incorrect.

I cut myself off from views and actions that may benefit myself and others.

In my case, I have asked for ethical/sustainable gifts for Christmas, and my wife and I are going to give ourselves the gift of sponsoring a child in need. If I had an identity that excluded being politically correct, I may have had difficulty doing either of those things. It is too fashionable. Too much the thing to do. And a family may not have received a goat. A child may not have received money for food, clothes and education.

(The next step here is to notice if I identify with an identity that does not exclude either of those two, which in itself is exclusive. What happens if I make “not excluding” into a belief? What happens if I am more free in that landscape too? Free to use one or the other pole of the polarity, or move among both? Free to be receptive to when either of those may be appropriate?)

Initial outline…

  • depends on context (who we are with)
  • if create an identity for ourselves that exclude it, miss out of a lot (and others do as well) (eg ethical christmas presents)

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