It seems to me that political correctness exists to enable people who have no respect to fake it. If you have respect for other people, you don’t need to worry about political correctness, because your default position will naturally be to treat people with respect. So the whole concept of political correctness becomes redundant.
The thing is, very few people these days are taught to have self-respect. Instead, we are taught to have contempt for ourselves and our fellow humans. We are taught that we only deserve love and respect when we qualify – when we achieve, when we lose weight, when we triumph over others. We are played off against each other for a sense of worthiness. But if you can learn to respect yourself, not because of your achievement or sex or how you look, or because of the race or family you were born into, or because of your behaviours – the way you exercise and what you eat – if you can have respect for yourself because of the simple fact that you are a human being, born to this earth, and you deserve love and respect, it becomes very easy to have respect for other individuals too.
When you respect and cherish yourself, you can have respect for other people without feeling threatened or diminished, because when you have self-respect, having respect and admiration for others doesn’t make you feel inferior. It makes you feel accepted. It makes you feel like you’re home. It frees you to value your fellow human beings, not to judge them. And you start to reach a place where you can appreciate whatever luck and privilege you have been blessed with, without judging others who might be less fortunate.
It sounds nice, but you can’t magically just decide to respect yourself and have it all work out fine. I’m not being nice, or fluffy – it’s not easy. When you can accept the idea that despite the many hardships in your life, in some regards you are privileged or lucky, and that other people work hard too – slowly the nature of chaos is revealed. When you can accept that your failures do not diminish your character, you can start to accept that other people are not diminished either. It is exceptionally challenging. You might need to change your value system, you might need to start valuing what you once did not, and you might need to cease to value what you think is important. You will need to disagree with people – either vocally or with your own silence – and you will need to reject their prejudices that are so ubiquitous they have become invisible. Choosing the path of self-respect isn’t necessarily easy, but it is better.
I have been working on my insecurities, and I’m not threatened by the idea that someone else wants to live free from oppression and be treated with respect. My sense of self is not so shaky that when other people demand respect, my own sense of worth starts to crumble.
Because having respect for others does not challenge the respect I have for myself – the opposite is true: respect begets itself. It is not selfishness dressed up in fancy clothes, it is practical, it is meaningful. It sacrifices nothing that is worth keeping. It all starts at home. Care about equality? Have respect for yourself, even though you struggle, even though you’re not where you want to be.