Tag Archives: Politically Correct

How much do you want to belong? How much do you want to be listened to? How much do you want to be acknowledged? How much do you want to be followed? How afraid are you of being ostracized? Are you fearful of being alone? All these aspects contribute to your susceptibility toward Identity Socializing or having the need to align yourself with a particular group’s values and “rules.”

First, let’s look at where Identity Socializing comes from. In these times our current mindset is one of believing that our lives should be prescribed by our laws, religious precepts, and social etiquette and its expectations. We can easily understand and accept following the laws. If we are in any way religious, we can also understand and accept following religious doctrinal requirements. But when it comes to social etiquette and expected social behavior, it’s a bit more difficult to determine where our inner autonomy ends and outer authority begins. This depends primarily on who and what we have been taught to believe have authority over us. Over the last few generations this point of reference has been shifting.

For the most part, laws and religious doctrines for our behavior have remained relatively consistent. And depending on our culture, family manners have also remained essentially the same. But our responses to each other in public have been undergoing a subtle metamorphosis. This is not so much a reflection of individuals intentionally changing but more from a perspective of indoctrinated change produced and promoted by our changing media and political system. The initiator was and still is the media. The political pattern for change slowly followed suit when it was seen that the methods for media indoctrination could be used as a manipulative ploy for political agendas and the directive potential for its constituency.

When I say media, I am not referring to the news media but to the commercial advertising industry in the initial stages of its clientele’s psychological and authoritative “conditioning.” This was the beginning of their restructuring of advertising style when it first became apparent that TV and radio could be used to sell products to consumers. These first twinges of subversive advertising policies began to occur when the industry first realized that they could make someone believe that they would “need” their product in order to become acceptable, if not desirable, to their peers. This was our first “conditioning” into believing that we are personally not good enough as we are, aka, a real man or a real woman, unless we were using their product. This was the first intentional use of the media in the diminishing of our worthiness suggesting that the authority we should submit to comes from outside ourselves, namely, them.

While we are being raised as young children, we accept the fact that our parents are the authority in whatever we are permitted to do or how we are taught to behave. This is obviously done for safety measures in light of the fact that we have no worldly experience to draw on in handling our lives or the dangers it may present. This is also done to instill in us the rules and expectations of the society we live in. This generally keeps us safe and makes life with others mostly smooth and agreeable. As puberty arrives, a choice comes to the forefront. In us begins the stirrings of the need for autonomy. Peer pressure and competition become apparent. At this point many of us make a choice as to whether we will follow our own drummer or that of others. How much our inner nature we have been allowed to express in our previous upbringing is the major factor determining which choice we will make. If we’ve been over protected, we will most likely opt for following others. If we’ve been encouraged to think for ourselves and make our own choices, or even neglected, we may will likely take our own lead.

There are many other contributing factors facilitating our choices. We may also lead partially and follow partially. The human mind is complicated and responds differently depending on the people and their influence that surround us in our early years. The point I’d like to emphasize here is that, generally, it is at this point after puberty, or slightly before,  when our parents begin to allow us to make some independent choices or even encourage us to do so. But in recent years, and with the advent of technology, another surrogate “parent” has begun to step in and take over our family’s parental duties and influences - the media. Technology has inescapably brought itself right into our living space through television, internet, and now telephones. The deprecating advertising has followed right along with them. And the media has not encouraged us to make our own choices. As a result, many of us move out of the parental “supposed to’s” directly into the media’s “supposed to’s” never even coming to the realization that we might be able to think for ourselves or that we’re even allowed to. Consequently, the opportunity to think for ourselves has been voraciously annexed by the media.

Now, a strange thing has happened. The psychological dependency we had on our parents has been extended to the media and external authorities. As a result, many of us, especially the younger “indoctrinated “generations, cannot decide what we want to do or who we should be without seeking the endorsement and “approval” of the media and its espoused requirements for social desirability and acceptance. Additionally, after the political bureaucracy has gotten involved in media in recent years, the need for that approval has been extended to our social behavior. That has allowed political correctness to move into an acceptable and authoritative position. This became the icing on the cake for our social control by the media. This brings us finally to Identity Socializing. What is it?

Since the media has essentially convinced us of our lack of personal authority and has taken over the last word on what it is appropriate to be, do and say in public, our “surrogate parent” now has gained the control over the personal values of those who have unsuccessfully graduated toward thinking for themselves. If you have learned to think for yourself, this will a perspective that you will likely be unable to relate to. If you haven’t, you may even go as far as to deny this in yourself.

For those of us who have failed to learn how to think for ourselves, it has now become common practice for us to align with specific groups and the principles of socially identified sections of our culture. This way we can know what to do and how to behave. In order for us to feel unthreatened, we must label everyone else according to socially identifiable groups. They must either be a vegetarian, an omnivore, a yuppie, middle class, affluent, oppressed, a leftist, a conservative, a minority, an elitist, a racist, a homophobe, a feminist, and many other classifications that pigeonhole them into a group that can be “standardized” in our dealing with them according to the prescribed and profiled rules of the group we “belong” to. Now we can feel safe and “in control.” Even gender now has a selection of groups.

On first blush this may seem a little excessive or even paranoid. But ask yourself this question. These days, when we first meet someone, what do we ask them? What do you do (where do you work)? Are you married (are you available)? Where do you live (are you affluent or are you struggling)? Do you have kids (can we talk about family)? How about those Gators (do you watch sports)? Almost every question we ask is a gentle, slightly tacit probe to find out what group they classify with, if we should associate with them, on what grounds, what beliefs are promoted, and will we have to defend our beliefs and perceived inadequacies?

In our current culture fear has become much more of a dominating factor. But fear of what? From one perspective, it involves our perception of our safety and privacy. But from a second perspective, and on a more subconscious level, our sense of group belonging has become a much larger part of how we identify ourselves. Why?

With the encroaching of the media annexing our power to think for ourselves, the outside world has become our authority in making decisions. This funnels us into becoming much more conscious of what other people think of us. Additionally, with the breakdown of our family structure over the past four decades, our sense of inclusion in the family has been lost where an assumed unconditional acceptance might be expected to come from. Now, we must look for that inclusion and belonging in the social sphere. With everyone conscious of what groups we do or don’t belong to, our sense of identity has become much more tangled up in the characteristics of the group we wish to belong to rather than our own inner values. To misbehave according to group rules might result in our becoming ostracized or “excommunicated” from our preferred group. This would be disastrous not only for our self-image but for the love and support we might expect to receive from them.

Through slow changes in the family and the media, we now have arrived at a place where we primarily identify ourselves based on external group rules and expectations. Our individualism has been obliterated in favor of the rules of the group we belong to. Our self-image now squarely rests in our social identity. We can only gain a reflection of ourselves from how we fit into the narrow edicts of the group we have chosen to belong to. Any individualism separates us from the group identity and “classifies” us elsewhere. We’ve been homogenized. We now are the masses described in George Orwell’s 1984.

We’ve unwittingly sacrificed our individualism and our ability to think for ourselves for belonging through identity socializing and we don’t even know it. Safety in numbers always results in the death of creativity. Every genuinely great figure in history has seen this and moved past it in forging their own individualism while risking rejection and excommunication from their superficially defined social groups. Can you? Do you even know that this has happened to you?

For most of us, mainly in our current social context and deeply imprinted within our conscience is the belief that to be a good person we must do the right thing. It is also assumed that society knows what that right thing is and is watching our performance at any given moment to see if we are measuring up. When we do the right thing, there arises a feeling of satisfaction within us in relation to how our society and peer group sees us. We feel supported and secure in that we are accepted and have a sense of belonging to our clan. Yet, there also arises within us an undercurrent that gives us a gnawing and indescribable feeling that something is missing. It is as if something has been ignored or omitted relative to our own preferences and wishes. If we take the time, we then we sit back and feel inside ourselves. In that moment we realize that we’ve sacrificed a part of our own needs and preferences to the benefit of others. We might even feel a little cheated. But, we tell ourselves, we’ve done the right thing.

There is nothing wrong with ministering to the needs and wants of others. If we’re going to interrelate within our culture, it’s important that we also have sensitivity to its needs and preferences. But, by the same token, we must also be sensitive and responsive to our own needs and preferences even in spite of feeling pressed into sacrificing those needs in favor of doing the right thing for others. We must also do the right thing for ourselves, even in the face of being labeled selfish by those who expect our service. Both objectives must be present in equal measure within us if we are to feel balanced and peaceful in our daily pursuits within our culture. However, our current cultural perspective has been changing such that its emphasis has been leaning more and more toward service to others taking precedence over our own personal welfare. This meaning of doing the right thing must be shifted back to a balanced perspective between public needs and personal needs. However, in light of the direction of our changing educational system, this is not likely to occur any time soon. With this in mind, let’s look at where the evolving meaning of do the right thing has been progressing toward.

We’ve all heard this expression time and again. But for each of us, it registers differently depending on how and by whom we were brought up. But what do we really mean when we say the right thing? To define this will seem crystal clear for some of us but nebulous at best for others.

Rather than getting involved in a whole plethora of definitions, suffice it to say that the majority of us perceive the word right as meaning what is considered to be proper, moral and socially acceptable. That being said, there are many perspectives to be taken depending on our culture, religion, beliefs and past experience. This will make our expectations for ourselves and those we hold dear extremely diversified. However, any of our reasonings will fall into one of two categories; what we’ve been taught and what we personally feel internally.

In our modern-day world our concentration on life through the internet has encouraged us to be much more interactive as opposed to if we were left to our own devices without it. That is, we’re being groomed into putting much more stock in what the world outside of us believes and espouses to be true and proper rather than what our own heart may dictate. And although we’d also like to think that our children have been raised by us to think for themselves, the reality of the message they’ve received is if I am acknowledged at all, I must do as I’m told and what I feel or think comes second to world beliefs. The parental perspective of this message, usually held unconsciously, is do as I say not as I do.

Our culturally promoted world view, whether we are conscious of it or not, has evolved into the belief, or maybe just an accepted assumption, that a good person is to be altruistic or sacrificial to others by nature. A bad person is someone who is assumed to be selfish, self-absorbed and not considered to be a contributing part of his clan. In other words, altruism is defined as "having regard for the interest and well-being of others (1853)” and selfishness is defined as “self-seeking, self-ended and self-ful (1620s).” Unfortunately, our current society has been morphing into seeing any perspective in terms of only black or white. For many, the blending of the two is virtually impossible. We’re left with being judged as either good or bad.

Giving back to our society has become the gold standard for what is expected of us when we deal with the outside world. What we do in private, for all intents and purposes, is ignored by our culture unless it directly affects someone in public. Then, it receives judgments and consequences. This “manifesto” has been drilled into our psyches by the prevailing religious organizations who have their own control oriented agendas under the guise of the morality peddled throughout the centuries. The belief that God, Jesus, Buddha, Mohamed or Krishna are to be followed flawlessly as the only way to insure a rewarding afterlife and that there are special people and books who “know” the secrets held by these people. The expected public belief is to accept that there is an absolute universal perspective that dictates the behavior and perspectives that we all must abide by…with the exception of those who supposedly “know” the truth and administer rewards and punishments, of course. Bottom line, we’re trained into believing that the authority for how we run our lives is dictated by others who “know” how the world should be. Still, they were brought up as we were; following and doing what they we told. However, at some point they became aware of the manipulative dynamic in force, jumped on the bandwagon and assumed a position among the “knowledgeably elite.”

So, what is the right thing to do socially? It is whatever the elite dictates that allows them to maintain control over the masses (us). This funnels favor, opportunity, advantage and finance in their direction at our expense. So, what is the right thing to do personally? This depends on where we take our authority from. For each person it will be different. Do we subscribe to the absolute universal perspective peddled by the elite which almost always channels benefit in their direction or do we follow what our inner self or heart tells us is the best response for maintaining self-respect and domain over our own life circumstances? The former insures our safety and belonging in the clan. The latter often leaves us banished and without support as punishment for not ministering to the needs of everyone else before ourselves. To choose the former is easy but squelches our own preferences and creativity while promising safety and security through believing that others will support us if we fail. The latter activates our preferences and catalyzes our creativity but provides no social safety net if we fail. Oddly enough, these same scenarios resonate with socialism and capitalism, respectively. Think about it. The more we allow group principles to take precedence over whatever our own heart tells us, the more we move into becoming a socialist culture. One only has to look at other socialist cultures to understand the direction and circumstances that this migrating belief system will present us with.

To the extreme, doing the right thing has socially almost become synonymous with being politically correct. This has been cleverly developed into a weapon for coercion by many special interest groups also climbing on the bandwagon and looking for advantage through engendering guilt and emotional blackmail with our deprecating labeling and “excommunication” as its price for non-acquiescence.

So, what to do? We must each make a choice. Are belonging and social support the most important commodities in our lives? If so, we must align with what our culture demands of us as the right thing to do. We may gain belonging and support but there’s a price. We must forego our own personal preferences and individual creativity in favor of the needs and preferences of others.

Are being self-directing and individually creative the most important commodities in our lives? If so, we must align with what our heart tells us is the right thing to do. We will gain our independence and ability to express our creativity as we please but there is also a price. There will be no belonging, support or social safety net available to us if we fail.

One last point. Of the two choices, the latter requires more courage.  Who do you know who has been successful and has done everything they were supposed to do or were told to do? Odds are…no one. People like Thomas Edison, Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nicolai Tesla, Queen Elizabeth I, Albert Einstein, Joan of Arc, Jesus, Marie Curie, John Lennon, Janis Joplin and Nelson Mandela, to name just a few, have all followed their own path listening to their own heart and inner calling. Do you want to be successful? All we have to do is listen to that small voice inside us, muster up our courage and do the right thing.

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Politically Correct is a term which is relatively new but stems from a perspective eons old. To put it simply, being Politically Correct is when you refrain from speaking from a perspective that might offend a social or political group even if your perspective is a fundamental principle that you ardently believe in. But then we must look at what might be considered offensive and determine if preventing someone else’s feelings from being hurt is actually our responsibility. We now must question where we draw the line between being actually assaultive or damaging and merely being expressive. What now happens to our right to be expressive? Does someone’s right to feel safe or secure now supersede our right to be expressive? There are many factors that contribute to how this may play out in our daily lives such as mixed company, political settings, proximity of children, vulnerability of participants, laws, customs, traditions and a whole host of other venues that may be used as a premise for the demand of its support or negation. Where do we begin? How did we arrive at this point? Probably the best place to start is our culturally progressive evolution toward tending to looking outside of ourselves for validation and approval through putting the importance of the feelings and opinions of others over our own. In this, self-effacement has become a required norm rather than an option. Here an example would be best in keeping with clarifying what we’re dealing with.

In my recent participation in a primarily spiritual group I encountered a circumstance that exemplifies the dilemma we face in understanding Political Correctness and how it can positively or adversely affect the participants in a situation.

The scenario occurred in a weekly meditation group that usually begins with good spirits, playful bantering, discussion of political and social events and relating personal encounters from the previous week before our sessions begin. The moderator was already present as I entered. No one else was present. Greetings were exchanged and a discussion ensued replaying some of the political and social issues and perspectives that had highlighted popular concerns during the week. Our discussion progressed to potential alternatives to actions that might be taken to ease some of the concerns people generally felt. At the peak of an engaging part of the discussion an older gentleman entered the room and shuffled to a seat. He listened for a few moments and then commented that the conversation was upsetting to him. He then stated that “the good lord had put us here to love one another.” I answered that that is just his opinion. He then stated that he didn’t want to be in this vibration and left the room. The moderator said he was sorry as the man left and then others entered the room. The usual bantering and joking ensued and we soon moved into silence for the beginning of our session. Before we began the moderator told the group that he’d like to apologize for his part in upsetting one of the participants who had left the room and asked that in future sessions the participants restrain their energies and expression as they entered the room to prevent disturbing other members in the group. The request was met with silence. It was obvious that this had put a damper on the elevated energy that usually permeates the group. We conducted our session and the group broke normally at its conclusion. I left very quietly while being pensive about what I had experienced. It had disturbed me but I couldn’t quite figure out why. It was a while before I came to understand what had actually transpired.

Let me first start off by saying that it is my choice to be either insulted or complemented by what someone else says. I must take responsibility for my own reactions. I really can’t blame anyone else for what I internally feel or generate myself. Therefore, I have no right to complain that someone has verbally hurt me even if I let myself buy into what they’ve said to me or about me. What I feel is my responsibility not a function of what someone else does or says. This being said, I am also not responsible for what anyone else feels as a result of what I say. They also have no right or room to complain. There is an old childhood saying that says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.” That alone says we either have or should have control over our own feelings and well being short of any physical contact. Let’s move a little deeper.

Our culture has become infected with a trending feeling that we must “dumb ourselves down” so others may feel comfortable and secure around us if we even think that they might feel frightened, jealous or intimidated by how we express ourselves. This perspective can very quickly become a slippery slope. It is a type of suppression that lends itself well to manipulation from within the cloak of political correctness and social etiquette. Psychologists call this the tyranny of the weak; those who use helplessness or infirmity as a guilt inducing tool evoking the relinquishing of our personal control and self-preference. In a crude fashion I can liken this type of behavior to someone dressing up as a beggar to panhandle in order to prevent having to get a job or a person who feigns sickness in order to evoke sympathy and special favors. Their behavior and assumption is geared toward us giving them deference in a number of ways. Currently, in our culture, we have become so brainwashed into believing that we are responsible for everyone else that when we do what’s good for ourselves we’re viewed as selfish or narcissistic.

I’m not promoting emotional anarchism as there are many instances where kindness for the frailty of another may be called for. But there are those of us who use that frailty as a tool for manipulation. Hypochondriacs are a prime example. And there are those of us who use the frailty and helplessness of others as a platform for their self-interest and our manipulation. We see this through guilt inducing tactics in blood drives, charity organizations, pet rescue commercials, feed the children commercials and more all insinuating that it is our responsibility to take care of those “less fortunate” while encouraging us to feel guilty if we don’t donate. A political example of this is “affirmative action;” the manipulation of one group to the advantage of another. The pendulum of who we should feel responsible for has swung way to the “others are more important than we are” side. In politics, I believe this is a stark reflection our population’s reaction and cheering on of Mr. Trump’s “America First” over the continued draining of our own country’s resources supporting every country who “whines” at us complaining about their woes and needs for rebuilding after they’ve done irreparable damage to their own resources themselves.

Now that we’ve done some exploration and laid some groundwork for how and what political correctness might encourage, let’s move back to my group experience expressed previously.

Was the older gentleman wrong in expressing his discomfort in remaining at the session? Not at all. He said what he felt and took action that reflected his feelings. He acknowledged his feelings and acted according to what he thought would be best for himself. A mature and commendable action.

Was the moderator wrong in apologizing for his part in the elder gentleman’s choice? No. He also made a decision based on what he felt and took action by informing the group of what he wished for his group in future sessions.

Were my feelings about what occurred wrong? No again. Although it took a little while before I clearly understood the dynamics of what had occurred. None of us had ill will at heart. Just preference based on what each of us had felt and decided based on our own previous and individual experiences. I doubt any of us felt manipulated or pressured toward any kind of action beyond our own choice as conditioned by our own historical experience.

I have not gone back to the group. I feel that if I can’t freely express myself there that it would not be a place for me to flourish or feel comfortable. But again, that was my choice based on my own preferences about how I’d like to live, whom I’d like to interact with and to what degree of freedom I’d like to have in doing so.

The important part of all of our individual decisions is that we didn’t take the actions of one another personally. Had we done so, blame, insult and all the other imagined insults would have led us toward taking immature and insecurity based manipulative action in order to exercise control or save face. Since we all remained responsible for our own feelings, the experience simply resulted in our individual choices leading us to put ourselves on an individual path comfortable for each of us.

If we are honest with ourselves, political correctness becomes unnecessary. In my opinion, political correctness is simply a manipulation and self-deception under the guise of needing a required personal sacrifice or suppression of one’s expression…yours or someone you’re “acting on behalf of.”

So the next time you hear the words politically correct, take a closer look. Is someone or something being shielded from the light of day or the truth? Is someone benefiting from the suppression of someone else? Odds are, most likely there is.