In William Sloane Coffin's book, "The Heart Is a Little to the Left," he writes the following:
"Civility has only superficially to do with manners, etiquette, or even good taste At its most profound, civility has little to do with taste, everything to do with truth. And the truth it affirms, in religious terms, is that everyone, from the pope to the loneliest wino on the planet, is a child of God, equal in dignity, deserving of equal respect.
"It is a religious truth that we all belong one to another; that's the way God made us. From a Christian point of view, Christ died to keep us that way, which means that our sin is only and always that we put asunder what God has joined together Such a belief obviously celebrates rather than fears our human differences. Such a belief affirms both differentiation and community."
Coffin also reminds us that our Declaration of Independence affirms the above: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."
In Galatians 3:27-28, the Apostle Paul wrote: "As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus."
Though his words are directed to the Christian community, they challenge all of us to stand on higher ground when it comes to recognizing the dignity and worth of each other, regardless of status or gender.
So this brings me to the correctness of political correctness. In my opinion, political correctness is just one attempt to help all of us be more aware of the value and worth of every human being. We only need to access any form of news media to discover that our world and our society have not risen to that high calling. And, though political correctness can make us feel a bit uncomfortable at times, better that than becoming so complacent in regards to human relationships that we become numb to treating each other with mutual respect.
As a child, I learned to sing, "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world." As a Christian, I am reminded that my main goal is to love as God loves. As a human being, I am aware that I fail at that more often than I care to admit. But at least the awareness of the truth bothers me enough that I keep on trying to imitate God's extravagant love.
Again, political correctness is at least a feeble attempt to be like a burr under the saddle of our human psyche, reminding us that all is not well in human relationships and we need to keep trying to make it better. Indeed, we need to keep trying to make it much better. And I say better that we continue to be disturbed in this regard than just write off the correctness of political correctness.
Doug Fairbanks is senior pastor at First-Centenary United Methodist Church.