Why to say no? Well bred people never say so, right? And values like appropriateness, politeness and inclusiveness…shouldn’t they guide our stylistic choices? After all, we don’t want to make anyone angry, right? Well, not so fast.
These days political correctness seems to be a hot issue for everyone.
So much so that as someone wrote, we can say with confidence that political correctness has gone mainstream.
Now, while I believe it is important to respect everyone, I also believe all this political correctness is in most cases a heap of nonsense.
In fact, there’s a fine line between granting people basic and inalienable rights, and instead enforcing such rights with a series of laws and policies. Laws and policies that in most cases force people to act in certain ways, but don’t teach them anything about the underlying principles.
Basic and inalienable rights have to do with education, role models, and culture at large–and though they need time to bear fruits, they are the ones that really do the job.
Instead, enforced policies only look at numeric entities that aren’t necessarily representative of any meaningful improvement in the way disadvantaged or discriminated groups of people are treated.
For example. If a scientific association set out to grant funding for the ten most interesting research proposals, and were forced to split the money in two parts, five for men and five for women, we would have a blatant case of poor policy, or political correctness travesty.
In fact, the goal should be that of granting money to the ten best research proposals. Period. These could come entirely from women, or men. Or any other proportion in between.
Instead, offering someone a fund because of his or her gender would be the best way to exacerbate the gender issue, not to resolve it.
This type of political correctness is bad. As bad as using not thoroughly tested pesticides to fight weeds or kill lice.
Really, equal rights and equal opportunities, good and free schooling. These are the things that matters. All the rest is just hot air.
We should also remember that, just like a certain percentage of the population will always be particularly progressive and enlightened, a corresponding percentage will always remain indifferent to any kind of progress–no matter what governments and institutions are going to cook up.
Human nature is a fact of life, like the weather. We can try to schedule our activities to make the most of it. But we cannot discount its existence.
Political correctness and truth
If political correctness is bad in general, it is even more so for writers.
In fact, writers have the right but also the duty to tell the truth as the story they are writing requires it to be told.
Obviously, this telling the truth is often at odd with political correctness. But as Stephen King wrote in On writing: “If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”
It all boils down to that. To the universal truth of our story. To the way we perceive it in what we are writing.
This telling the truth is already a feat in itself. But it should be taken one step further. It should also be part of our everyday existence. I’m not suggesting we should go about telling everybody we meet we know the truth and they should therefore listen to us carefully.
More simply, I mean we should learn to say no a lot more often than we usually do.
Why to say no more often?
Just take a look at the following list:
Why to say no? Because it helps us to focus on what we are doing. And if we’re not sure about the importance of this focusing, well, Steve Jobs was.
Why to say no? Because it grants us the time we need to write that last damn chapter. Really, saying no to all those non essential things that pop up every day in our life, can free up a lot of time.
Why to say no? Because it makes it clear we are serious about our writing. After all if we don’t take ourselves seriously, how on earth can we expect to be taken seriously by the others?
Why to say no? Because in this way we learn to prioritize. And this means that after a while we end up knowing that no matter what we’re doing, we’re doing it because it is the best thing we can do at the moment.
Saying no can be difficult, yet…
Of course, saying no to our friends and spouses can be quite difficult, especially the first times.
For example, we may fear rejection. We often want to be of help out of simple respect or friendship. We might also feel guilty, or have a strong dislike for confrontations.
However, as Doc. Vanessa K. Bohons says, most people aren’t going to take our noes as badly as we fear they might. In fact, it is often the case that the consequences of our noes are much worse in our head than they are in reality.
So, here you are. Time to start… No you say?