Emotional correctness is the new political correctness

By Leslie Muir

Emotional correctness is just as important as political correctness and it’s the next big thing.

In a country in a time where political correctness is working its way into being a mainstream issue for public and private rhetoric like never before, we are creating a culture of awareness and respect for all people. Along the way we have also started a culture of policing and monitoring one another’s language. While this has made for a kinder, more mindful social environment, it has also allowed us to worry solely about the words being said and not the way they are expressed.

Lesbian liberal-political commentator and former talking head on Fox News Channel, Sally Kohn, has expressed this the best. Her TED Talk on the idea of “emotional correctness” is one of the shortest and best videos that has crossed my internet feed in a long time. Kohn makes the argument for keeping political correctness alive and well, but to keep in mind how we behave towards one another in the process. She uses the example of working with an entirely conservative staff and viewership at Fox News, but still being treated with respect and kindness despite their differing political and social leanings. Kohn said that she learned from none other than Sean Hannity how to be emotionally correct to staff and peers, even while disagreeing on TV.

This is a message that I think every community, including our own at Lewis & Clark, can really imbibe. Being nice to one another is sometimes difficult when opinions are raised that are different than our own, especially when in certain circumstances, the opinions are potentially offensive or insensitive towards certain groups of society.

“We spend so much time talking past each other and not enough time talking through our disagreements, and if we can start to find compassion for one another, then we have a shot at building common ground,” Kohn said from the TED stage in 2013. This notion of understanding one another and discussing issues, even controversial ones, with compassion is the best way to express yourself in a way that is influential. Yelling doesn’t let all voices be heard. Shutting people down doesn’t allow for discussion.

Kohn notes this differing of opinions herself and how emotional and political correctness can coexist.

“Now, I think Sean Hannity is 99 percent politically wrong, but his emotional correctness is strikingly impressive, and that’s why people listen to him. Because you can’t get anyone to agree with you if they don’t even listen to you first,” said Kohn. The notion that when people are not using politically correct language or holding culturally sensitive ideas and that we need to educate one another instead of shut them up entirely comes to mind. Regardless of how successful this ever is or how open-minded that approach is either, it supports the concept of compassion that is so lacking in our discussions in classes, in society and even in politics.

Emotional correctness means that we can open up a dialogue with differing views expressed while being kind to one another. As we work towards being a more politically correct school community and society, it is just as important to be “emotionally correct” as well. One should follow the other and then maybe we’ll all feel like we are welcomed and belong.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user MartaZ
Photo courtesy of Flickr user MartaZ

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