I realized recently that “political correctness” is a complete misnomer. First, it has nothing to do with politics. It’s social. When you speak in a way that’s inclusive or that acknowledges how other people identify themselves, that’s a social thing. It’s about respect and treating other people like people, not about policies or laws. There aren’t laws governing what we can’t say or can’t say. Second, it’s not about correctness. We’re not talking about worksheet problems for 3rd graders (let’s ignore for now all the problems with the education system). Everything in life isn’t divided into correct/incorrect. Once again, being cognizant of the words you use is about acknowledging other people and cultures and treating them as people. But thankfully I hardly hear anyone say “politically correct” anymore, I guess it’s pretty dated.
I also realized that the way we define “truth” in Western society conflates truth with objectivity. This definition automatically discounts subjective experience, which I think makes us less open to other worldviews. I believe that truth is subjective, that what’s true for one person isn’t necessarily true for another person. And by limiting truth to only what’s objective, we limit mutual understanding. I would define truth as something (can be anything – an idea, a process, a goal) that we believe is greater than ourselves and that we are willing to devote ourselves to. This can be the process of science, it can also be a love of food, it can also be religion. It can be money, it can be social hierarchy, it can be power. It’s whatever we think is constant and unchanging in our world, our life, but nothing is unchanging right? It’s not that I don’t think we should seek truth. I think we should all seek personal truths, but just realize that what’s true for us, might not be true for other people.
Originally published here: On “Political Correctness” and “Truth”