From my article in Ynet: “Smiling Outwardly, Hating on the Inside”
The phenomenon of political correctness ranks high in American society, but it seems that, for the first time, millions of Americans who despise this phony culture are daring to say, “Enough!” There are also those who are taking advantage of this and may become president on the back of this “rebellion.” Rav Laitman talks about the politically correct culture.
Which of the following expressions would you use in conversation with people? An adult, elderly, or senior citizen? Full or fat? People with special needs, people with disabilities or disabled? Black, colored, or Afro-American?
“Politically correct” is an approach whose goal is to prevent the usage of phrases that express discrimination, racism, or emotional injury regarding religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, and more. Supporters say that, even if it takes time to change attitudes and speak in a new language, in the meantime, public awareness rises, social injustices are gradually corrected, and only good will result if we think twice before we blurt something out. Opponents claim that it is hypocrisy, a distortion of reality, and contradicts the principles of freedom of expression.
The History of Laundering Language
In the past, there was no problem of political correctness. The human hierarchy was clear, and every person recognized his social status and accepted an expression that designated him or his occupation: noble, lord, aristocrat, servant, vassal, and common citizens. Language was laconic, direct, and “uncultured” relative to today, and nevertheless, a person was not offended by being called a servant or a prostitute, just as long as this was his social status.
It seems that, for the first time, millions of Americans who despise this phony culture are daring to say, “Enough!” And there are also those who are taking advantage of this and may become president on the back of this “rebellion.”
People were related to according to their status in society, just as, in the army, a person is related to according to his rank, or as in Indian society, according to the caste to which he belongs. It is possible to criticize these hierarchies and social labels, and say that they are incorrect or unjustified, but that is how things were, and the human species agreed with this reality and accepted it as something natural.
The French Revolution at the end of the 18th century became the symbol of radical changes in the social order and government of that period, and after it, the change began. The egoistic nature of humanity evolved to gigantic dimensions and distanced people from each other, until the feeling of social affiliation faded. A movement from villages to cities began, from farming to professions like science, education, and culture, and within a few years, a son of peasants became a doctor. The model social order that had been kept throughout history changed, and people refused to maintain their inferior status. They demanded respect according to their new status and the education they acquired.
Storming of the Bastille. Painting by Jean Pierre Howell, 1789.
Equality became the name of the new game. Leaders and citizens, the educated and the common people, men and women, black and white, were all equal. There was no difference. Thus, we apparently became more “liberal.” Gentle, considerate, and mostly hypocritical, we no longer said directly what we thought about others. We concealed the truth. Lying on the outside, we continued to think and feel differently inside. Acting falsely, we erased the gaps between us, and all in all, we found a new and easy language for managing “politically correct” conversations.
So, what is politically correct for me now?
You will ask, but what is bad about living in a society where all of us are equal and acquire respect for each other? Isn’t this what we have aspired and struggled for throughout the generations?
There is nothing bad about living with equality or wanting it. The problem is different: we are not naturally equal at all. We are not equal in our genes, in the character traits with which we are born, skin color, IQ, the amount of money we earn, or our unique worldview. Or, as the sages said, “Just as their faces are different, so their opinions are different” (Berachot 58b). However, the culture of political correctness proves to us that we have an enlightened desire within us for equal opportunity, social justice, and a fair society for all of its members. So, from where is the drive toward equality derived?
According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, in the collective unconscious of humanity, all of us aspire to equality and are drawn against our will to the single and perfect state toward which all of creation is heading. Many nations in the past rebelled to gain liberation from colonial dominance or struggled against the worldwide phenomenon of racism. To live in real equality, not just to express it in nice words, we must emulate the natural system that connects everything in harmony and balance, each one remaining as he was born or educated, weaving a tapestry of mutual connections that will create a feeling of wholeness between us. What this means is that we reconcile all of the oppositions and differences between us, and peace will dwell among us. Only through this mutual interdependence and responsibility will each individual remain valued and important in their wholeness, the same for everyone without exception. As in a circle, each has his unique and extreme point, but in relation to the center of the circle, all of us are equal.
Taking Off the Masks
Were we only to be connected among us “as one man in one heart,” we would discover that human society is richer and more varied than it seems to us, but instead of correcting the faulty system of relationships between us, we correct our language. “Political correctness” is a covering for our true fear. It blocks our opportunity to discover how egoistic, evil, and cruel we are toward others, and it limits the ability of humanity to evolve.
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was the first to say that all of us censor our violent and sexual impulses that bubble up within us. As they break down, the more society goes out of balance and become more dangerous, as evidenced in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Although Freud detected a bit of the evil that is hidden in humanity—that we are egoistic creatures by nature, aspiring to dominate others and oppress them—he didn’t provide an answer for this.
The wisdom of Kabbalah is a method that can teach us how to connect among us above all of the differences and to correct the source of evil. It is the hope for changing the face of human society. With its help, we will succeed in reining in our egoistic nature that is liable to bring about the fall of society. Our egoistic nature is an immense negative force that threatens to erupt against others and work to our detriment. To neutralize it, we must balance the relationships between us using the positive force, the power of connection.
Equality as a Test of Reality
Kabbalah teaches that the feeling of true equality and love can only be built as an additional floor over inequality and hatred, a formula that is called, “Love covers all transgressions” (Proverbs 10:12).
In every stage of our lives, the ego exposes another of its pieces expressed in feelings of detachment, rejection, and hatred toward others. There is no need to blur or to change the hatred; it is an organic part of creation. “As the Sages said, (Tractate Kiddushin 30b), ‘I created the evil inclination; and I created the Torah as a spice for it,’ meaning that the illumination in the Torah reforms” (The Writings of Baal HaSulam). All that is incumbent upon us to do is to connect between us above the hatred, and that is how we arouse the positive force, the power of the “Torah,” the power of connection and love that has the ability to bring balance, equality, and social justice.
The more we invest efforts in connecting to one another with the help of dialogue, discussion circles, and shared acts of connection, so we will arouse the power of connection and love that will make it possible for us to be “as one man in one heart”.
Above the transgressions and the hatred, a subtle fabric of love is constructed that determines and conserves. “The essence of the vitality and existence of all of creation is through people whose opinions differ joining together in love, unity, and peace” (Likkutei Halachot, Halacha 4). Love is the purpose of our evolution. This is not speaking about a temporary heartfelt connection, but about an obligatory natural law of reality, that ultimately, all of us are connected together in a single, complete system, and there will no longer be any need for political correctness.
From Ynet article 11/2/16