When does political correctness become a fault? When others feel vindicated telling the “brutally honest truth.”

When I was younger, my father  told me to avoid the topics of sex, politics, and religion until you  know the person  well. The same philosophy was repeated by my current manager, when discussing business. Never discuss these sensitive issues unless the client brings them up. Then, avoid any incriminating comments.

During the Miracle of Christmas lighting season  here in Keizer, I was approached by a neighbor as I walked the  route and asked, “Do you people put up lights?” Referring to the fact I am of the Jewish faith.

“You know you are the chosen ones,” I am told. We never really discussed faith, and she stated “As a good Christian, I hold your people of high regard.” This neighbor was embarrassing herself, showing her complete lack of understanding of the Jewish faith. As well intended as she was, she had a lack of understanding of her own faith. But, I continued on my walk disregarding our conversation, when I believe others would have entered into a deep discussion.

I was with a client during a lunch meeting and the topic came up about politics.  My client is a history  buff,  has business sense, and well respected as a local physician.

He stated “We wouldn’t be in this mess if it were not for President Obama. My taxes are going up and those liberals are creating such a mess.” How do I approach this conversation? Do I tell him I voted for both President Bush and President Obama? Or simply listen quietly?  But, the best was yet to come. He stated: “I was informed by my staff, you’re of the Jewish faith. I would like to share a Jewish joke I heard.” After I hear the joke, do I laugh out of politeness or tell my client I am offended? Maybe I should share a Christian joke or perhaps a Chinese joke, respecting his background. In the end, I listen politely.

I visited a friend who has three children,  age ten and above. Money is tight and the discussion came up about  increasing debts.

“We are so proud of our church and community,” he said. “My job is going well, although  I have not had to pay raise in years.” Then he told me the exciting news.

“My wife is pregnant”, he said with a half smile. Wonderful? Friends and family are going to be congratulating the family. Well wishes from the church and neighbors. But, will my political honesty come through? Why have a child now, when money is already very tight? Raising a child is very expensive. This was not a planned pregnancy. Is the morning after pill an option? The church will help those in need I understand, but this family would not be in need if it was not for having children they could not afford to have.  Again, I keep my views to myself.

Some people would comment after reading this article, “Get a backbone”, others would say, “You’re too soft, stand up for your beliefs.” But, these issues have been dealt with in the past with a heavier hand from me, and the comments and backlash to my honest and forthright response was heard for years afterward.  Passion of ones beliefs leads to each individual’s commitment to stand up for what they believe and what they will fight for. Political correctness is an outreach of those standards.

Allen Prell lives in Keizer.