Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Emotional Correctness vs. Political Correctness

Progressive activist and pundit Sally Kohn offers a radical message: emotional correctness beats the political kind. Check out her TED talk.

Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Lisa Falkenberg sounds a similar call in The Houston Chronicle.

Overnight, Betty became a bigot - or, at least, that's how the 74-year-old Brazoria County grandmother fears people will perceive her for opposing gay marriage in a country that has just legalized it nationwide.

As a devout Catholic married for 53 years, it seemed that one day, a family was a mom, dad and kids. The next, it was something radically different. Five judges decided to play God and "destroyed the definition of marriage," she says. Suddenly, gays, liberals and young people were celebrating in the streets and everything from the White House to Niagara Falls was set aglow in hues of rainbow.

"It's like 'what's going on here?' You thought you were on solid ground and you're not," Betty told me in a phone interview Thursday. "Everything we believed in is changing."

While I disagree with Betty's opposition to marriage equality, her plight made me think. Are people like her really free to express their opposition or will they be shamed and ostracized as Donald Trump has rightly been for his Mexican rapist remarks?

And if so, is that shame justified? Betty isn't some politician scheming ways to skirt the new ruling to please his base. She's not a government-paid clerk refusing to implement the law. She's a private citizen, an otherwise seemingly loving, polite church lady who just grew up in a different world. Yes, she supports denying other people a right she enjoys, but, is she more worthy of our tolerance than your run-of-the-mill racist or sexist?

"There are people who are wrestling with this," says William Martin, senior fellow for religion and public policy at Rice University's Baker Institute. "But others, their view of the Bible, their Biblical literalism, doesn't give them any room to maneuver."

His advice is for them: OK, so you think gay people are going to hell. "If they're not worried about it, maybe you shouldn't be either."

And the advice to the rest of us who have a hard time tolerating other people's intolerance? Take a deep breath, and be patient.

We don't have to condone homophobia, but we don't have to respond to it with anger and hatred, either. The only things that will change the hearts on the other side of this issue are the only things that we ever have: love, empathy, and time.

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