Western culture has a problem.
I suppose that it has been there for longer than we realize.
I’m sure that the Internet is responsible for spreading it, and that same form of communication is equally at fault for maintaining it.
What is it?
Lying to yourself
Now there are a lot of ways that this exhibits itself.
I intend to only explore one.
It alone is likely to spark a furor of debate and disagreement, and not just with me.
I want to talk about political correctness, or perhaps I should call it the lie of political correctness.
A naked Emperor
I don’t know if Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is considered politically correct or not to Western society.
To the people of the story, it wasn’t.
They were expected to admire his new wardrobe even though it was plain as day that he was standing there in his underwear.
It’s difficult in a democracy to understand the sway, never mind the authority, that an emperor held, especially in the days of yore when kings, queens, and the odd naked emperor ruled.
For one thing, there’s too much romance attached to our perception of life in those days, and for another the nature of national governments have changed dramatically since then.
You’ll remember that when Iraq was “liberated” that the mega-statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad was pulled down.
In North Korea, it’s worse.
According to a couple of TED talks, the dictator-of-the-day is central to the entire education system – worshiped like a god.
In that nation, and others like it, they are being lied to as well.
The difference is that the general population doesn’t know it, such is the brainwashing.
Those who do can’t talk about it because it’s a capital crime to question it.
Why don’t we tell the truth?
Our society is different, however.
We’re free to believe whatever we like, and yet we choose to believe a lie.
So why don’t we just tell the truth?
What is there to be afraid of?
We like to be liked
There are a few reasons.
One of them is that we want to be liked.
That’s how we end up in the groups that we do.
We want to be around those who share our same interests; who like what we do. I
t’s part of the reason why the “Like” button is so popular on Facebook.
When we’re confronted by someone who disagrees with us, we’re given a choice.
We either agree, which means we “like” what he or she says and to a certain extent that person, or we disagree with that opinion.
When we disagree, our esteem for the other person also diminishes, even if only for a few seconds.
So in the absence of strong convictions, one way or the other, the likelihood that we’ll agree with or tell the truth will depend very much on how important it is to us to like the person we’re with.
When we’re confronted by someone with strong views, if we don’t have a good answer, then we may change our minds.
Paradigm shifts can occur like this.
Take all the baloney surrounding what began as the “fact” of global warming.
(I used to be a weather forecaster in the US Air Force. If you want to take up this discussion, then send me an email.)
At first, it was a relatively small number of scientists who suggested that this was occurring.
When the media got hold of it, the lie was spread around the world.
Anything and everything was considered a contributing factor.
And the thing is that even as the evidence began to mount that this was a lie, the naysayers were told to “shut up!”
You’ll have noticed by now that over the years the terminology has become climate change.
This is a much more accurate description of what is occurring; and the fact of the matter is that even it hasn’t been going on for long enough to assess if this is part of a cycle or something out of the ordinary.
The point is that when we lie to ourselves, then we don’t want to hear the truth; or to put it another way, “Don’t confuse me with the facts. My mind’s made up.”
What is the danger of PC?
It should be rather obvious that the whole PC thing has gotten out of hand; that it’s become more than a bit of social etiquette.
But is there any real danger to it?
And don’t let anyone tell you that there isn’t.
You see, the problem is that if you can’t tell the truth, then you can only speak lies.
If you can’t call something what it is, then you’re forced to refer to it as something that it isn’t.
For example, the official name of East Germany was, when translated, the German Democratic Republic.
That name was a lie.
It was neither democratic nor a republic.
It was totalitarian country ruled from Moscow.
A more accurate name – the truth – would have been the East German Communist State; but of course, that wouldn’t have sounded very good.
Or how about the old Soviet Union?
The long name was the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics.
Both China and North Korea also fall into this camp.
Each has the word democratic or republic in the long name of their countries.
Yet, not one of them is free.
A republic by definition is a democracy.
The government is elected by the general population, and there’s more than one name on the ballot!
Do you see where this is going?
Lies make the truth politically incorrect
When we don’t speak the truth, then collectively we make it impossible to do so.
That’s what political correctness is.
It’s saying the the Emperor is wearing new clothes when in fact he has nothing on.
It’s what free speech is about.
If we don’t stand up and speak the truth, and if we let the courts and the politicians dictate (that’s an important word) to us what we’re allowed to say and what we’re not, then we are handing the truth over to them and giving them permission to determine what it is and what it isn’t.
And when they start telling us what the new truth is to believe, we’ll be no better off than any other dictatorship where free speech is verboten.