Byron's Babbles

Civilized Disdain Vs. Political Correctness

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Education, Global Leadership, Inspirational, Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on July 4, 2015

  
 “The difference between civilized disdain and political correctness is that the former allows one to feel disdain for a person’s or group’s views or beliefs while maintaining respect for the human beings that hold them.” ~ Carlo Strenger

Happy Fourth of July to you all! By 5:00 a.m. this morning my son and I will be on Lake Michigan fishing on the DreamWeaver III; a 35 foot Viking. We are in the Scottville/Ludington, Michigan area visiting our good friend Kevin Eikenberry and his family for their annual Fourth of July party. As I reflect on this important day in our nation’s history, our forefathers did not set us up for success by practicing political correctness. They were successful by having very heated ideological debate, reaching consensus, and then implementing. Indiana House Speaker, Brian Bosma reminded me of this when I asked him what success on the State Board of Education would look like. He said, “It’s all about working together to find consensus and then carrying out implementation.”
I have been reading the great book by Carlo Strenger, The Fear of Insignificance: Searching for Meaning in the Twenty-First Century. Strenger argued the ideology of political correctness failed because it was a “profoundly inauthentic prescription: it is humanly impossible to genuinely respect beliefs no matter how irrational, immoral, or absurd (Strenger, 2011).” The resulting culture was emotionally frozen and often did not lead to fruitful discussion between worldviews in general, and between secularism and religion in particular. The ideology of political correctness stated that the only civilized way of coexistence was to respect other peoples’ beliefs, just because they are held by someone. The hope behind this ideology was that if we would just be nice and respectful to each other, we would somehow be able to coexist in the same polity. 
The resulting culture of us all wanting to be “politically correct” led to us being emotionally frozen and often did not lead to fruitful discussion between worldviews in general, and between secularism and religion in particular. Strenger advocated for “civilized disdain, an alternative to political correctness that is more authentic and more attuned to what we really feel toward worldviews that we do not approve of on moral or intellectual grounds. (Strenger, 2011).” The difference between civilized disdain and political correctness is that the former allows one to feel disdain for a person’s or group’s views or beliefs while maintaining respect for the human beings that hold them. I am so glad I read Strenger’s book. Interestingly, I do not have all of the same beliefs, but I do believe we could consensus build and problem- solve together. Also, I do appreciate his look at the world and our interactions as a global society, or homo globalis, as he calls it. 
 “Civilized disdain has turned out to be surprisingly productive in creating human bonds of lasting value. The mental discipline required for civilized disdain may be crucial for the type of world citizenship that will allow fruitful cooperation across ideological divides.” ~ Carlo Strenger
As I was studying this I was thinking about the signers of the Declaration of Independence and those who ultimately became the framers and founders of this great country, I love and call home. Shortly after the American revolution our founding fathers completed the Articles of Confederation. They then realized that the documents were inadequate to the task of unifying a diverse group of newly ­independent colonies. A debate thus ensued, between the Federalist side, led by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, and the Anti­Federalists, led by Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry, over exactly how much power and authority to give Congress and the other central branches of the new government. Hamilton argued that a strong central government would be essential to the nation’s survival and prosperity, while his opponents insisted that most of the nation’s power should rest within the state and local governments. By 1787, a sort of compromise was worked out that resulted in our Constitution and its first set of amendments, the Bill of Rights. I have said this before and will say it again: I am glad there was the disagreement and debate over state’s rights. I firmly believe that had there not been the federalist and antifederalist debate, there would not have been the quality final product – our Constituion and Bill of Rights. 
So, on this day of celebration of the United States Declaration of Independence, let us consider civilized disdain, where we allow each other to feel disdain for a person’s or group’s views or beliefs while maintaining respect for the human beings that hold them. Then, we need to take those difference and through compromise and consensus-building form them into a “best” solution. Finally, and most importantly, we must then implement.
Happy Fourth of July and God Bless America.
Reference 
Strenger, C. (2011). The fear of insignificance: Searching for meaning in the twenty-first century. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, LLC.

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  1. […] and have tried to live. In fact I have included thoughts on consensus in other blog posts. Click here to read “Civilized Disdain Vs. Political Correctness.” You can also click here to read […]

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  2. Safe Disagreement | Byron's Babbles said, on March 20, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    […] is most important when related to disagreement and discourse. I wrote extensively about this in Civilized Disdain Vs. Political Correctness. In Lesson #36 of The Disciplined Leader John Manning (2015) tackles this subject. Manning […]

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