Monday, July 21, 2008

Out of this World

The Chicago Tribune recently published an article about undercover comments and subtle racial slurs in the workplace. While the article was interesting, the comments from the readers were more so. I was just a bit surprised to read the number of comments that confirm what I have long known in my heart - people are not operating on the same planet that I am. It is one thing to talk about Free Speech, but purely another to fail to understand why the workplace should be free from slurs, intimidation, hostile work environments, and other acknowledged aliens.

I work hard to teach my children that not everyone will like them, and the sooner they learn that lesson the better off they will be. I have dealt with early lessons of, "you don't fit in, you aren't as pretty as us, you aren't neat and polite like us" and random other comments that are taught to the littlest of alien children who have no home training in appropriate etiquette. Yet, the more I read the more I'm certain that they (my children) will inherit a work world where - like always - they'll have to out perform, out work, out credential, out talk, out articulate, out write, out shine....the entire workforce, in order to be treated with any dignity and respect. And even then, I pray their self-esteem and dignity will not rely on acceptance from people who don't get what civil and respectable treatment is - regardless of the freedom of speech. My husband and I will teach them to use every weapon they have, and when all is said and done - we'll handle the topic by talking about the aliens. Those folks in our society that are foreign to good and common sense. I believe that the point of the article was to bring attention to the subtle nature of coded prejudice, but there isn't anything subtle about the world going to full steam ahead to an environment when people who voice an opinion about wrong are whiners, and when reverse discrimination is more politically correct than demanding from people the dignity and respect earned by the vast majority of hardworking citizens.

It's easier to wrap an entire culture in a stereotyped bow, than to give every person the respect of judging them by the content of their character. Problem is...very few people have character any more, removing the ability to judge it.

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