Political Correctness, Compassion, and the Power of Words

by | Aug 4, 2016 | 5 Merciful

Political correctness can help us see the image of God in others.

Political correctness can help us see the image of God in others.


Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy (Matthew 5:7).

Political correctness is politically incorrect in ever more social circles, it seems.

Even people who strive for inclusiveness grow weary of parsing, modifying, and sanitizing their terms. Not everyone has the mind and temperament for that. Moreover, confrontations from self-appointed PC police can get pretty rough, defeating PC’s purpose of enhancing social sensitivity.
On the darker side, many object because they simply want to feel safer expressing their prejudices. Of course, they don’t think of their stereotypes as prejudices. They just think they need to call out differences in race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation to address supposed disruption from people they deem “different.”
But they minimize the power of words to hurt. It hurts to step out into the community and encounter people who follow you around in a store because they expect you to steal. It hurts to choke back your feelings and your truth because you don’t fit the template others have of you. Labels and categories set that up.

Spirituality helps me to embrace political correctness as a program for harnessing the power of words to help.

The power of words quickens my Protestant heart as it did the first Protestants. Protestant Christianity followed not long after the invention of the printing press. So reading was all the rage, and literacy began its ascent in western culture.
Moreover, there was something about holding a Bible and dwelling on the words. Insight and inspiration came with daily devotions and more accessible preaching. Words empowered faith.
I blog on the Beatitudes because the excitement lives on in my heart and hopefully yours. And it was already there in Catholicism. It just needed spreading around.
The ancient prayer practice of lectio divina long predates Protestantism and rises in popular use. It begins with dwelling on a word in scripture or other sacred literature then letting the word lead into spilling the words from your heart to God.

What does this have to do with political correctness?

As in our devotional life, the words we choose shape our hearts and our seeing. Every human being you encounter today bears the image of God. If you call that person by their name or by words chosen compassionately, God will disclose something of Christ from that person. In that sense, we are bibles to each other.
But lectio divina takes a surprising turn at the end. We drop the words. After we speak our piece to God, we let them go as they arise and return to silence moment-by-moment.
For words help us to see up to a point, but then they become boxes that limit our vision. We cannot contain God in a box. Neither can we contain God’s image in others.
Embrace political correctness as a spiritual practice. Name others compassionately, for then your terms will give you clearer vision for the image of God they bear. Then drop your words and listen without prejudice.
God will bless you with a word. And you will bless another with your heart.

Related Posts


Drop the Objectification Lie
Encouraging Paradoxes of the Dark Night
Keeping the Faith in an Invalidating Environment
Moving through Prejudice to Peace

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