Can someone tell me what happened to debate? Is the current state of lack of initiating, wanting and allowing debate a result of the mobile phone and its many apps, twitters, instagrams and the like, or is it the fear of being politically incorrect and the consequences of that?
The benefit of free speech is based on individual liberal values and the ability to debate what you hear in an open manner without the fear of being berated, chased off or blocked by the very institution where you are signed up to deliver ideas, thoughts and opinions that might be different to the audience’s own, because they are not willing to expand their minds through open debate.
Is our political correctness narrowing open speech to such an extent that we cannot express what we want to say for fear of someone taking offence? It is a sad day when the most famous of British puddings “Spotted Dick” is relegated to the politically incorrect column and changed to “Spotted Richard” because “Dick”, which I am sure you are aware has many meanings in the English language, one being the shortened version of “Richard”. What does this mean – we have stopped offending Richard, but it is OK to offend Dick? I for one will continue to use the traditional name of this pudding, because I have very fond childhood memories of the best Spotted Dick in the world being cooked and served by my mother. To add to its appeal and deliciousness she would serve it with rum sauce. It’s a wonder that she was not accused of being irresponsible!
On the same note, what about the advert for a position which was rejected by the job centre because it contained the words “reliable and hardworking”. What is the problem with this? The problem is that reliable and hardworking could easily offend the unreliable and lazy!
Not only was I brought up on that great British pudding, and many others like it, but I was also taught to debate openly around the dinner table, as were my four brothers and sister. That skill has taught me to firstly hear what is said, think about it and then formulate my own point of view to add to the discussion and if needed defend my corner openly, with assertion and humour, whilst remaining friends if I don’t happen to win. Another element of political correctness – “children should win in competitions, there should be no losers, because they may not handle it well”. Welcome to the real world - there is no such thing as winning all the time. The best of life’s lessons come from not winning, but learning from your mistakes and getting right back up to fight your corner in a more structured, expert and assertive manner. It also drives a stronger desire to win and therefore generates the necessary effort to achieve that goal. No doubt leaving the lazy and unreliable behind.
Is it time that we as a nation with all our wonderful differences learn to respect and tolerate others opinions for what they are, without being offended? The effort to understand what the person is expressing that might be different to our own thoughts and opinions, but at least we hear them, and who knows might even change our opinion.
To end a few words from Sanjeev Himachali, (Talent Management and Development Leader) “Criticism is part of learning and growth. It means that you are taking initiatives to learn something new and grow from your current state. If you are not getting criticised, it means you are not taking enough risk to learn something new and to grow.”