Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Being Politically Uncorrect

Years ago when my grandpa was still alive, whenever he talked about someone who was Japanese, he said Jap.  I hurried to correct him, saying Japanese.  He never argued, but simply ignored me and went on.  

After a time, he started showing me his old scrapbook from when he was in the Navy, stationed in the South Pacific during WWII.  Within were pictures of the natives that he met, planes that the Air Force flew,  and the buildings bombed by the Japanese military.  He saw the destruction that the Japanese military wrought on the helpless tiny islands of the South Pacific, destroying the lives of many helpless natives, who had no military to call their own.  

Over the years I have watched documentaries and read books about WWII, some in the Pacific theater.  In every instance, our soldiers used the word Japs.  They explained that they saw them as the enemy, and when you are fighting an enemy, you can't see them as human.  For how can you kill a human?  They did not see us as human, therefore they thought they could kill us.

I feel so foolish now, trying to be so politically correct with my grandpa.  I felt like in my quest in teaching him to respect others, I disrespected the very one I was trying to teach.  It is so easy to try to correct others, without even trying to understand where they are coming from.  We all are influenced by our experiences, and in turn, these experiences affect our perceptions of people.  If we are quick to try to change people, we instead shut them down, and push them away.

I think it is better to teach respect by listening, and understanding.  To "climb into his skin and walk around in it."  Then, not only are we teaching it, we are modeling it.  Maybe then we can find some common ground and go on from there.  Otherwise, there will be no diplomacy.  As they say, we have two ears and one mouth.  Use accordingly.  

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