I just read a blog on political correctness. It wasn’t about politics, but about how people perceive who and what we are based on our words and the judgements they make. That got me to thinking. Are we responsible for what our readers think? Does what we say matter? Or is it just important to us because we use blogging sometimes as an outlet? Am I supposed to censor myself just because of what someone who doesn’t even know me might or might not think? As with everything, there are many facets to that thought and always two sides with pros and cons.
I think back to when I went on Facebook. I am not outgoing and haven’t kept in touch with high school ‘friends’. The truth is, in high school I was the one trying to stay invisible and watched from the sidelines. So there was not much interest in revisiting that time by getting in touch with people I never knew in the first place. But, Facebook is a place to talk to family who live far away, see what they’ve been up to, and even to see what people have made of themselves. As life and time passes, our lives intersect with others and are touched by them. It is sometimes interesting to see how their life progressed after your brief connection was over. Voyeuristic? Perhaps. But I think it’s a normal part of the human wish to stay connected and to be accepted and to know that we matter.
Do I need to be careful when I post a rant? I always remember that old adage “If you can’t say something to their face, don’t say it at all.” I guess it’s part of having a few morals. Being considerate of others. And that other saying, ‘never get in an argument about religion or politics’ is a good one.
We all have our own opinions and beliefs. And we are entitled to share them, if we want to. But there is a fine line dividing bending over backwards trying to please everyone, and shoving our personal opinion down every throat we come in contact with without caring about the consequences. It’s also about how we want to be perceived as a person. I’ll give you an example.
About 6 years ago, the small business I worked for was sold. I had been there for about 20 years, give or take a few. It is a small ‘mom and pop’ type of business with less than 15 employees. Small enough for everyone to get very close and feel like family.
The new owner was black. That didn’t bother me at all. She even asked me was I going to remain working after she took over. I told her the only reason I would quit is if the two of us couldn’t get along. We immediately had a connection. We were both mothers with grown children. We were still married to our husbands. We were both Christians. We both firmly depended upon prayer. We were both musically inclined. Our job also connected us. We were both artistic and creative. The only difference was, she was ‘new and excited’ and I had done that work for a very long time and was thinking I was seeing the end while she was at the beginning.
I soon learned other things. I am perhaps a somewhat typical white middle-class person. I grew up poor, lived a relatively sheltered life, and my goals were to go to school and ‘do something to make a living’ and of course, get married and have kids. Living in a city of less than 200,000 people that was mostly white means I didn’t grow up around many blacks or Hispanics or Asians.
Now my new boss/friend had a very different upbringing. She was lucky to have strong parents who taught her to stand up for herself and to make something of herself and to lean on God. I see her family dynamic and the goals and successes of her children and admire her greatly. She is a great mother. She is a great person. She appears to pray more than I do and depend on God better than I do. I am a fan. But she grew up in Alabama. She remembers separate bathrooms for whites and blacks. After moving here, she remembers a teacher telling her daughter she would never amount to anything. As recent as 20-25 years ago, she told me when she was remodeling a new house they had just bought, the man she was giving instructions to asked for the ‘lady of the house’ to talk to assuming she was the maid. I was shocked by many of the life stories she shared with me. She had seen different things growing up and living her life than I did. I was teased and made fun of because of wearing glasses and my weight and my shyness, but it’s not quite the same. We grew up different.
The purpose of this digression is to remind all of us, that the people in our lives are all different as well as alike. We have similar interests and desires but we all came from different places which colored who we became. My friend is a staunch Democrat who adored Obama and voted for him twice. I happen to be very conservative, pro-life, and find many of the beliefs of the Democratic party offensive. As friends who love each other and respect each other, we don’t talk about politics.
And that brings me back to the first question. Do I censor myself when I write? Do I have a responsibility to think about how what I write might affect whoever reads it? And should I even care? For me, the answer is yes. My tongue-in-cheek answer has always been, if you wouldn’t want your pastor or your mother reading it, than don’t put it out there. Do I rant about politics sometimes? Sure. But I remember I have friends who believe differently than I do about religion, politics, gay marriage and many other subjects we all face every day. I strive to be sensitive and considerate when I get on my soap box and rant. I’m entitled to rant, but I don’t have to be nasty about it and I respect that you might have a different opinion. That’s what makes life interesting.
See you next time. And the journey continues…