Notes from the Institute for Political Correctness

Institute for Political Correctness (IPC): Institute for Political Correctness, how may I help you?

Caller: I’m in charge of decorating our office common space for the holidays and was looking for some advice.  We want to be extra politically correct this year.

IPC: Well, that’s wonderful! It’s important to respect everyone’s beliefs, traditions, and cultures. That being said—

Caller: I know holly is one of the symbols of Christmas, but Jews, for instance, don’t celebrate Christmas, so my first thought was that we might create wreaths of holly in the shape of Jewish stars. But what about all the other religions?

IPC: Good points, however being PC is not so much about decoration as it is about treating all as individuals, and—

Caller: We certainly could try to represent all religions. But I don’t know that a Christmas tree flocked with Hanukkah, blue faux-snow, adorned with lotus flowers and a nine-pointed Bahá’í star on top, and placed upon a Kwanzaa mkeka mat would be so…feng shui.

IPC: Actually, respecting everyone may simply mean a more all-inclusive, secular approach—

Caller: Oh, right! A non-denominational atmosphere. Avoid all major symbols of the holidays—no frankincense, men in loincloths, or swaddled babies. And, of course, no candles. To be safe, it would probably be best to avoid light altogether, right?

IPC: That may not be necessary. Not everyone is religious, and simplicity is—

Caller: Of course, the atheists! But, I don’t know if an invocation of the solstice would do. Come to think of it, the place should probably be constantly heated to avoid association with Paganism. Any snow falling naturally should probably be removed before it hits the ground.

IPC: What is your budget for this? I think maybe you’re over thinking—

Caller: No, no, I think we’re onto something. Let me think about this…the crescent moon and star are, of course, representative of Islam, which means that the windows in the common room would have to be covered so nobody working late could see the moon and stars in the sky. We wouldn’t want them to think they were made visible intentionally to invoke Islam.

IPC: I don’t…I’m not suggesting—

Caller: I think I’m getting this PC thing now.

IPC: Maybe just focus on a neutral color—

Caller: Color, of course! We should stay away from Hanukkah blue, white, or silver. Red and green stand for both Christmas and Kwanzaa, which is also represented by the black candle. Any other color derived from combinations of these colors could be construed as biased. And transparent or translucent decoration could not be used, since placing them in front of anything colored, which would be seen through them, might be offensive as well.

IPC: You know what? Kindness and love are really what’s important, regardless of religion so—

Caller: Absolutely! Kindness, love, joy, dreams, miracles, and any other emotion or concept associated with the holidays should be kept to oneself as one enjoys—I’m sorry—as one “exists” in the decorated area. You wouldn’t want anyone else to think the company put you up to feeling or thinking a certain way to promote one religion over another.

IPC: Okay, I don’t want to be offensive, but maybe you shouldn’t decorate at all.

Caller: Brilliant! The “decoration” could be a nice empty space. I wonder if we could artificially generate a black hole? That would be awesome! Of course, it would have to be referred to as a “great void” because, as I mentioned, the black Kwanzaa candle. Then again, if you decorate with quantum physics, which is science, you might again be seen as catering to the nonreligious.

IPC: Wait! Stop! Decoration is not important. It’s how you treat each other. What matters is approaching each individual as a fellow human deserving of respect. Being PC is not about standing on ceremony to try and follow religious rules that are not your own. It’s about loving humanity regardless of their faith or lack thereof. You want my opinion? Remove religion from the equation and just act out of loving-kindness.

Caller: That could work, I guess.

IPC: It’s called humanism.

Caller: Hmmm. Never heard of it.

IPC: Well, if you like—

Caller: Oh, I’ve got it! I’m going to get  children with disabilities and from all ethnicities to do the decorating. The only material I’ll provide them to decorate with is a legal notice, translated into every language on Earth as well as Braille, making clear our intentions not to offend or show bias.

IPC: (Deep sigh) Sounds like a plan.

Caller: Thank you so much. You’ve been very helpful. I think it’s so important to be PC. Merry Christmas and have a blessed day!

IPC:  Happy holi—oh, never mind. You too.

I hope you have enjoyed this little comedy piece. It’s that time of year again, when, according to certain sources, we secular soldiers don our Flying Spaghetti Monster colanders, strap on our weapons of midnight mass destruction, and fight our “war on religion” by attacking Christmas. We create tension by our stubborn insistence on spewing forth our despicable, fork-tongued offering of, “Happy Holidays!” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Well, I for one would like to end the carnage and repent. We should indeed be a little more sensitive to the fragile state of the beleaguered Christmas, Sarcasm intended.

I’m going to wax a little preachy here. Although we don’t need to kowtow to others’ religious rules, we really must work on being respectful to each other, regardless of what we believe or don’t believe. As a humanist and as a human, I feel a duty to take very seriously how I treat others. This recent trend toward “telling it like it is” and throwing political correctness to the wind is just an excuse to be a bigot, in my opinion. Words have strength and meaning. It comes down to what we feel in our hearts and to acting out of true love for humanity. It’s simple really, and especially in today’s political climate, probably the most essential thing.

Have a happy…day, every day.