EDITORIAL Pages: Society may need the return of King Solomon

Social homogeneity, our future objective?

Donald Trump may have started it all with his boorish and bullying behaviour. First, it surprised us, political candidates being boors and bullies as only a Hollywood movie depicts. But then it occurred so often, we became accustomed and inured to it. We began to accept some it. Finally, a backlash began. Black lives matter, the #me too movement, public posting of sexual harassment. We even began labelling political leaders as being arrogant, offensive bullies.

‘Outliers’ engarde! We aren’t going to take it anymore. Fall in line with our perceptions of proper social behaviour or else. We’re gonna get you!

Society is headed for neutrality, greyness, bland, nothingness. We are critical of anything which discomforts us. We will eradicate everything that causes us uneasiness. Someone criticizes your race, you attack in defence. Someone criticizes you for your gender, your skin colour, your ethnicity, whatever. You don’t turn the other cheek. That’s so passé, so old school. So feeble!

Correct to some extent
The school of political correctness, proper decorum, acceptable behaviour is correct on many levels. Bullying, intimidation, sexual harassment should not be acceptable behaviour, tolerated by anyone. Such behaviour has no place in our society. More importantly, the protagonists of such behaviour should not be allowed to carry on in that manner just because they have positional power or financial or institutional. It cannot be justified or rationalized ever in any way.

However, beware where we are headed. Social neutrality. ‘Merry Christmas’ no longer acceptable. Christmas pageants in schools, out. Religious festivities based on historical traditions, no longer acceptable.

No justification for bullying, sexual harassment or such behaviour
There is no justification for negative behaviour. It is wrong on all counts. However, the danger is that our criticism of social behaviour is expanding more and more. Each week, a new line is drawn barring another example of that negative behaviour. Is there a limit? Is there a final line in the sand? At what point will society see that such relentless pushing of acceptable boundaries edges closer to complete restriction of all personal freedom. Eventually, a person will not be free to act in any way which they want because someone is insulted, offended, hurt by this behaviour.

Eye of the beholder
Added to the danger of almost any behaviour becoming unacceptable, any individuality abhorrent, is the consideration of ‘says who?’ Look at the most recent news regarding the deposed leader of the Ontario provincial Progressive Conservative party, Patrick Brown, for alleged sexual harassment. We are now entering a world of ‘nuances, inches, increments and small lapses of poor judgment.’ Of course, there is a defensive argument to be made for “No means no” but is the ‘No’ a “Hmmm, I am not sure…maybe…ok, let’s try?’ And the fumes of alcohol take on a greater urgency. Again, at risk of sounding like a defence for what may have happened, when a person has been drinking and accepts an invitation to another’s home, the potentially erroneous decision’s result should not become immediately blaming the protagonist in the incident. The possibility that the ‘defendant’ may be culpable, a somewhat willing partner to the incident should be considered. The “No” may not have been as clear a NO as hindsight makes it seem.

The very serious issue here is that every kind of behaviour can impact undesirably on someone, may be viewed negatively in someone’s eyes. Christmas is not a celebration or positive event to a Buddhist or a Muslim. The hijab may be unacceptable garb to a westerner who witnessed an act of terrorism somewhere.

Perhaps we are trying to protect people who cannot defend themselves. The latest political upheaval comes from the leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May. May may be a very strong, assertive, even aggressive personality. She may need to be such a person to lead a third level party. Lesser ‘cajones’ could spell failure for the party as a whole. People working with May may be bulldozed and blown away by her alleged steamroll manner but she has a greater goal than avoiding ruffling feathers of a menial staffer. Again, not to justify, defend or rationalize but it is highly unlikely May is looking at the person who she has just steamrolled. She likely is focused on a greater political objective with no regard to the sensitivity she could or should display to a subordinate co-worker. Read Alex Ballingall, Toronto Star, Ottawa Bureau’s greater comments about May at MAY

Rosie Dimanno writes another opinion  [ see ROSIE ] when she comments on Patrick Brown incidents and Dimanno presents a constructive and very valid case when she writes that Brown may not be the culprit we paint so quickly and so aggressively. The victim could have said ‘No’ in a clear and unambiguous manner. A weak rejection may easily be mistaken for a demure hesitation rather than an outright rebuff.

Where are we headed?
Society may be headed to where people will hesitate to do anything at all for fear of alienating or antagonizing someone. There is always someone out there who disagrees with whatever one does, no matter how good/bad it may seem at first appearance. All the people cannot be pleased all the time.

Anyone remember about turning the other cheek? Walking away? Avoiding the conflict? You may have a right to this walkway, but you also have a responsibility to make your decision absolutely clear, free of any misinterpretation or ambiguity. The success of one’s rejection may not always be practical or successful. However, the incident may need serious review and re-examination before one chooses to denigrate, charge or litigate every negative incident experienced in one’s life.

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