A Political, Social World

A Political, Social World

by Adam Goodwin | 2014 | Last Updated: March 13, 2014

The World

Depending on your perspective, the world is a very large place.  For instance, if you wish to walk around the world, the world is very large and this would take you some time to accomplish.  Conversely, if you look at walking around the world as just putting one foot in front of the other (or what have you) then really it is what most people do everyday – just on a grander scale.

Depending on your perspective, the world is a very small place.  For instance, a fish (notwithstanding a number of other variables) could swim around the world in a few weeks.  Conversely, if you look at the bacteria on the fish that only lives for a few days then perhaps traversing the oceans of the world makes the world seem like a large place.

Social World

I was speaking to colleagues the other day about the role of socializing in a post-secondary context.  More and more universities are developing ‘informal learning spaces’ to create environments in which students can use the social aspect of human nature to learn and teach peers and colleagues.  This raised an interesting question about a social world.  Is the collective of a university responsible for each component that makes up the university community?  Put another way, do the components making up the collective have a responsibility to ensure the other components, and not just themselves, are flourishing?

Oh joy, this will be quiet the job and task in this blog post. Instead of diving into these questions straight on, I wish to explore a few topics related to politics and today’s political world.

Politically Correct

A major buzz term over the past few decades.  Political correctness.  I used to think we must be politically correct in order to be a good person.  As I went through my university education, I realized how wrong this thought truly is in today’s world. There’s a few reasons.

Being politically correct only serves one individual.  The individual speaking. They do not want to offend or upset others partaking in the conversation.  However, this is wrong.   We should be inclusive to conversation and ideas – this is not to say people can say whatever they wish (this is not what is meant by ‘freedom of speech’).

Movement

Instead of tip-toeing around issues, because they are ‘politically sensitive,’ we must run towards issues with the idea of problem solving and resolving in the name of what is most humane and best for the human nation and indivdiual human beings.  This is much more humane.

Let’s not run from issues because they may not be popular topics to discuss.  This serves no one except for the sensitive, defensive boss at the top who thinks he/she runs a perfect, well-oiled organization/group, or my favorite example, the politician who doesn’t want to upset the electorate in order to stay in power (instead of trying to fundamentally provide a framework that supports others, which is much longer term).

An Example

An example from work.  Recently, a transgendered individual came to campus to speak about transitioning identities, genders, stigmas, marginalization, and inclusivity.  An absolutely brilliant opportunity for students (from the philosophy, university should try and introduce as many topics/areas/experiences, as possible).  Before and after there were many interesting conversations about the guest.

Before, there was a debate about how to introduce our university’s guest.  Do we refer to ‘him’ as ‘he’ or ‘her’ as ‘she’?  The questions started?  Was he born a he or she?  Was she born a he or she?  What is he/she transitioning to?  What does he/she identify as?  Then the, what can be all too typical in academy settings, I know more than you, right-wrong (thank you capitalism for making us believer there must always be one winner, and one loser), conversation started.  “I know someone who knows someone.” “My friend transitioned so I know.”  “This is my area of research so I know.”

After the speaker, there was more conversation. He/she is a transgendered female/male.  The conversation continues.

As I listened to these various conversations (I love when speakers can create intellectual debate – sign of a great educator (the point of the speaker, for students’ education)), and did not partake, as I all too often do not, I wondered why no one had asked her/him/it/them.  Is the world too politically correct, to ask someone how they would like to be prefered?  Is it our business how they identify?

As social creatures, we often ask for others’ names, country/city, degree, major, etc.  Then we go about assuming one’s gender/sex.  Is another’s gender/sex not important to us so we don’t bother asking?  Perhaps we are starting to realize the truth about gender stereotypes – just that, they are stereotypes (and many times, grossly incorrect).

I will let the debate continue in the comments section of this blog post.   To tie the post back to some of the original questions: is the whole responsible for each individual part, and this question in the context of a university setting.

University Setting

A bit of a story (perhaps, all too stereotypical).  You come from a rural town where you know everyone and everyone knows you.  You played on the boy’s soccer, rugby, and golf team in high school.  Now, you are off to university.  Away from the same friends you have had since grade 1 (not in a bad way).  Parental oversight is greatly reduced.  New friends.  New community. New school.  New you?

Perhaps you can start acting more like the you, you identify with on the inside.  Your outer world can start refelcting the real inner year (or more represented).  However, you are scared.  Here jokes about the way others act, dress, or eat (you really want to dress, act, or eat that, but now are scared).  How a group is acting or talking is impacting others.  How others feel, what they want to be/do/act.

Is this fair?  Is this fair, that one group is flourishing perhaps socially by ragging on others, but at the same time oppressing others?  If one is flourishing, does this mean another can’t?  Can both/all flourish well at the same time?

Why I Ask

I ask these questions for several reasons.  As social creatures, should we create a society and social environments, where both you and I can flourish, be healthy and wealthy, and have happiness at the same time?  Do all deserve this?

In the increasingly political world, how can we be politically intuitive and socially senstive congruently?

To all these questions, I do not know.

A Call To Action

Let’s move towards a humane world instead of the current political world.  What is best for the planet?  What is best for all individuals? What is best for the planet’s rainbow peoples?

Futher Reading

Based on your reading of this blog post, you may also wish to read: Mandela (click here) or Student Services – A Journey (Part I).

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These are one person’s thoughts and opinions.  I welcome and strive to get your feedback and own thoughts. Feel free to comment below or connect with me via social media.

Adam Goodwin is a Canadian working in the United Kingdom, and is a proud shameless idealist. His parents currently work in Cairo, Egypt. He has siblings and distant family in Canada and around the rainbow nation’s only home. Follow his year+ overseas on Twitter (@adam13goodwin) and on this blog.

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