I don’t need you to accept me exactly as I am and I will not necessarily accept you exactly as you are. This sentence may sound closed-minded and abrasive, but it something that I firmly believe. In this culture of safe spaces in which the term “judgment” has a strongly negative connotation, I know I am in the minority. Today, people are so worried about offending one another that they forget that it is our responsibility to better one another, not merely to flatter each other. This mentality has come to dominate both personal and political life. Those who ascribe to this “judgment free” mentality are so worried about “offensive language” that there is no room for true intellectual discourse. The rhetoric of most politicians has been adapted to either not offend or appeal to passions rather than persuade and elevate the citizenry in the pursuit of the good.
Flattery has become the new normal in human interaction. We must always be nice to one another rather than tell the truth. I must admit that I have succumbed to this at times because I do not want to be disliked or to anger others, but I have come to realize that this “judgment free culture” is detrimental to all parties involved. The receiver of the flattery is taught that he can do no wrong while the giver becomes habituated in filtering his speech to be untrue. We all know that humans are flawed creatures, and they may be so flawed as to come to believe the flattery they receive. When we do not tell each other the truth, we have a tendency to gossip about each other which does not better yourself or the person being discussed.
I have had some great friends who are willing to critique my actions when needed. I do frequently get annoyed with them, but I have come to appreciate their criticisms. They have made me be a better person with and help me better my shortcomings in temperament and morality. In my experience, I am at my best when I am challenged by my friends. The same can be said for the republic.
America is at its best when there is constructive criticism that holds its leaders and its citizens accountable. The American experiment is at its finest when its leaders can be statesmen and elevate and persuade the people rather than be in constant fear of offending someone and being the latest target of cable news and talk radio. The future of America depends on its citizens being able to think for themselves and being able to speak freely. The safe-space culture that has been rising makes me fear for what is to come.
In the future, what will political discourse be? The 2016 presidential race showed that Americans are divided. They were either appealed to by outright populism and demagoguery or liberal political correctness in which nothing is said and no one is offended. In either case, the lack of judgment meant that substantive debates did not occur and no issues were resolved. The future of America depends on the next generation of citizens—including people my age—and I cringe at the thought of people who retreat to safe-spaces when offended as possibly becoming leaders of this nation founded on reflection and choice.