Political Correctness versus Just Being Polite


I fully understand the wisdom or need to be sensitive that our actions and speech do not offend, unless offense is needed. I am not convinced, however, that Politically Correct standards are completely democratic. I find it quite tiresome that I must measure every word uttered against a no-no list provided by special interest groups, while gritting my teeth over insensitivity towards people with which I now share my life. That said, I am hopeful that in most cases it is unintentional by the “perpetrator” and in fact normally no offense is taken by the “victim.”

The purpose of bringing this up at all, far from adding to the selections categorized as hate crimes, is to share the heart-felt appreciation I perceive and openly receive while employing these simple behavioral courtesies. By no means do I wish to initiate a process in which we will all just stop speaking with one another in order not to offend. Perhaps we may call this Political Politeness, although in fact it is just being polite.

By way of clarification, I have resided in El Salvador, a small country in Central America, for the past 30 years. I also claim some understanding about what I am presenting because I grew up in rural Delaware and Virginia; meaning this may very well hurt me as much as it hurts you.

  1. While visiting another country on the American Continent, please refer to back home as the United States or the USA. You are accustomed to proudly stating, “I´m American,” and rightly so, for you are American. However, everyone else around you is also American. America is a continent; we are all Americans, from la Tierra de Fuego in Argentina to the Northern Territories of Canada. This is not an issue of ownership, just something to keep in mind.
  2. Please get off that Number One trip. It´s downright embarrassing. Really, like Beverly Hillbilly embarrassing, if you remember back that far. Do a little research and discover for yourself in which categories we are actually Number One. Those in actual top positions of achievement do not crow about it.
  3. Good intentions aside, you don´t need to have the answer to everything. Actually you do not have the answer to everything and when your mouth opens, your ears close. Learning comes long before teaching. As an old saying goes; “Better to remain silent and be considered a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.
  4. If you are a progressive supporter of human rights and through that activism happen to meet highly skilled Hispanic professionals who have been forced to flee their home country, please do not offer them a job doing your yard-work, unless it is absolutely the only option available. They may be in need of the cash, but put yourself in their shoes.

These are a few friendly tips, given with the intention of creating a better understanding among all of us, not to create defensiveness and not to be taken as an accusation of hate crimes. Political Correctness should not revive a McCarthy-like atmosphere, which only widens the divisions separating our combined talents, but become Political Politeness building greater understanding. An understanding of and consideration toward your neighbors should never go out of style.


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