This post originally appeared on Inspirer.
We live in a time when everyone is afraid to say what they really think. There’s talk of ‘safe spaces,’ yet it has become unacceptable to bring up controversy. We have fallen into the trap of trying not to offend anyone, and as a result, we no longer say anything of meaning. In attempting to please everyone, our conversations lack substance and have become a parody of the real thing. Has being politically correct become too much of a worry?
As a society, we have become more and more polarized. Extreme in our points of view. The candidates in this past election are the epitome of this divide. It comes as no surprise that government struggles to work in a bipartisan fashion. Doing so would require opposing sides to work together instead of avoiding those of a different opinion.
Passionate people are full of fire and purpose. Sure, they might say something controversial, but at least they believe in something enough to stand up for it. It’s a quality that is becoming harder to find in our politically correct culture.
When I spent a few months in Spain, I was shocked by how direct the Spaniards were in their topics of conversation. Everything considered taboo in the states – religion, politics, money, sex – was fair game as far as they were concerned. As Americans, we often received very direct questions that made us uncomfortable. It wasn’t the intention of the Spanish to make us squirm, but rather a part of their culture. A passionate discussion that included raised voices was considered normal. Whether you agreed with the other person or not, it was expected that you be friendly and accepting of their right to have a different opinion.
That’s what we’re missing, the ability to have a tough yet respectful conversation with someone of a different opinion. It’s time to start having a real discussion with those around us. Instead of automatically assuming someone in opposition is unintelligent, talk to them. Ask questions. Explain your point of view and try to understand theirs. Neither of you may change what you think, but at least we can start to heal the divide in our nation. We’re all American.