Speak up..Speak out

Small intimate gatherings in Mumbai are just wonderful places to observe people.

Sit around with a drink in your hand and your ears wide open and you will hear things that tell you so much about people.

It’s my favourite thing to do. The less you talk the more you see.

Some of that could be inspiring, like a person’s fitness routine that makes your jaw drop at the dedication required or the work someone does that sounds so incredibly challenging and demanding. Sometimes though, the things you hear can be the complete opposite of inspiring.

Have you noticed that people in these small groups or comfort zones, tend to be somewhat different to what they claim to be? Its like pulling off the mask.

Sidebar: In today’s time with COVID, pulling off the mask at parties isn’t even an option, but back in the day I meant.

So let’s take this person who postures as secular but the moment he’s in a group that’s minority bashing or minority mocking, he not only partakes in the bashing but is clearly also relishing it. If you dont believe me just look at his animated face and the reams of “facts” that he conveniently has at his disposal, and I rest my case. Suddenly he’s an US and they are a THEM.

Or how about the acquaintance who laughs uproariously when someone cracks an inappropriate joke about LGBT folks or dissects a gay relationship in a mocking tone, or uses the word lesbian as if gay people were another species altogether!

Or the rape jokes, colour jokes, fat-phobic jokes, the casual sexism or just the way being politically correct is dissed & laughed at..

It got me thinking. Is it that we need to fit in and that’s why we sometimes join in the laughter or the digs? Are we afraid to take a stand and call it out?

Or is it the opposite and we really don’t see anything wrong with it and that what we put out there on public platforms is not really who we are.

Maybe we don’t see the contradiction.

Speaking for myself I feel that there have been times in the past when I have not called it out because I didn’t want to appear negative or angry or that party pooper who is unable to “take a joke” or horror of horrors have to face the ultimate insult “Lighten up! Why do you take everything so seriously?”

I have also realised that I feel so rotten & angry at myself, whenever I stay silent when someone says something inappropriate, either seriously or camouflaged as a joke. In fact, me thinks the truth is often masked as a joke.

Many a time people feel that these intimate gatherings are a safe space, where they know the ins and outs of everyone. Where they can be themselves! Knowing everyone basically seems to mean that you don’t need to be “politically correct”. The underlying thought seems to be that, “since I know that there are no gay or black or Muslim or Chinese folks, no “Thems” in that gathering then why do I need to mind my words?”

As a side note I want to point out that you really might not know, as much as you think you know, about everyone. For example: No one walks into a party with their sexuality printed on their forehead, or you might not be aware that the person sitting on your left has a son who is dating a Muslim, or a best friend who is gay or a sister suffering from depression..and so on and so forth. I am sure you get my drift!

My point is that the phrase politically correct is there for a reason, isn’t it? It’s a phrase that means “Don’t cause pain and hurt with your words”

It’s not about you, and how you have always spoken that way, (which is often what people say when they use words that are politically incorrect) it’s about the other person. It’s about being mindful and sensitive.

In short I would think that the rule of thumb should be, if you wouldn’t say it in front of “them” then don’t say it ever. Because if you are aware enough to realise that something is inappropriate & hurtful in some settings then you should also realise that what you are saying is clearly not right. You can’t be politically correct (sensitive) when it suits you. It’s not a contextual thing. It’s an absolute.

The second rule of thumb should also be to call people out. Every time..call them out.

It’s time to ditch your fear of being called the serious one, the drip, the wet blanket, the over sensitive one.

If the price one pays for being called all these things is a clear conscience and a life that’s lived in accordance with one’s beliefs then I say it’s totally worth it. In good conscience I must also warn you that you will probably lose a couple of pals along the way but to my mind, I’m quite sure you didn’t need them in your life anyway.

I think we often underestimate the true value & power of speaking up.

Try it next time.

Trust me, it’s liberating.