Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Ignoring the Optics

“In a land of freedom we are held hostage by the tyranny of political correctness.”
– Robert Griffin III

I sit here typing, not knowing whether I should be saying what is on my mind.

Perhaps I am a hypocrite?

I tell my children that they don’t need to say everything that is on their mind, yet here I am, expressing a thought that I’m not sure I should be expressing.

In some of my earlier articles I've discussed the Law of Unintended Consequences, the idea that with every purposeful act, there will be outcomes that are non intended or unforeseen.

So here goes, here is what I’m wondering whether or not I can say this:

The unintended consequence of political correctness is killing young developing minds.

The idea that one needs to make sure that they don’t insult anyone is suffocating people of this era.

For generations healthy parents were teaching their children to ignore the optics and choose the best option for themselves.

“Hire the best person, regardless of what people say.”

“Don’t not be friends with ‘Kenny’ simply because ‘Jack’ won’t like it.”

“If you like that shirt, wear it! Why should you not wear it just because "Fred" will laugh?”

Now people are scared of making a choice that might make them appear racist or sexist.

Many people from all ages are figuratively walking on eggshells, worrying how a decision or verbal statement might be wrongly interpreted.

Here is a story to illustrate my concern: 

A number of years ago in the United Kingdom there was a report about how members of a certain ethic community in a certain town were abusing the children of their town.

The police were notified from the beginning that there are victims making allegations of abuse, yet the police refused to respond.

Because the police were worried about being branded as racists.

So they did nothing.

Which only empowered the abusers.

Which caused more children to become victims.

Political correctness should mean that we treat all people with equal respect. It should not lead to a reality where criminals and others who are a danger to society are ignored because it will skew the statistics.

It should also not lead to a society where we are more concerned about potential reactions than we are concerned about what is best for oneself and one’s family.

So how does this translate to children?

With many children this is causing them to choose the choice that they believe others want them to make, and not the choice that they want to make.

They will choose to make their parents or friends happy at the expense of their own happiness.

They will sacrifice their own want in order to avoid being given criticism for beliefs that they really don’t have.

They are scared to use their voice to express their opinion, simply because they’ve witnessed what happens to others who have attempted to voice theirs.

Sadly, this reality has also opened them up to be manipulated by people who prey on this type of undue caution. (e.g. “Will you sign my petition asking the governor to pardon this person, or are you racist against people of this ethnic background?).

The goal should be for children to feel safe enough to express their true thoughts and feelings and they should be comfortable enough to choose their own personal wants.

The goal should NOT be that one needs to be so cautious of other people’s feelings that it completely stifles oneself.

So what can parents do?

Two suggestions:

First, teach them about Hanlon’s razor. That is the concept which says: Never attribute to malice that which can adequately explained by stupidity.

The second lesson is not taught through mere verbal education, it is taught through modelling proper behavior.

If children see that their parents aren’t so quick to view every insult and slight as vindictive, perhaps they won't either.

If they see their mother and father aren’t focused on how their neighbors perceive them, perhaps the child won’t be concerned as to how their classmates view them.

The change needs to come from the home.

The change needs to come from us, and that first and foremost means we need to change.

If we model bravery, they can be brave.

If we model a healthy ignorance to the optics, they can too.

However,  if we show them that we care about what others think about us, no amount of words in the dictionary will be able to convince them that they should behave differently.

Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.

To speak with Yisroel about speaking at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at

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