As a culture and a nation, we’ve been sacrificing common sense for sensitivity to the point of detrimental absurdity. We’re rewarding mediocrity and downplaying success and achievement in the name of equality, sensitivity and political correctness. While this isn’t a new thing – it’s been slowly creeping in this direction the last 30 or so years and has only hit the proverbial warp drive button in the past five years.
Day in and day out, the impacts of deafened common sense are peppered throughout our daily news. The following are some examples that stuck out to me, of what I believe is our collective sense of what’s correct withering away.
Our Children Aren’t Killers
Last spring in Baltimore a second grader was suspended for eating a pop-tart to make it shaped like a gun.
Children have pretended to play with guns for years. Who didn’t play cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians growing up? These games have been stricken from playgrounds by fear that these innocent gestures may, in some extremely unlikely and unproven way, affect their psyche.
If today’s teachers and administrators witnessed what my friends and I did years ago on the playground, they would have put us on the terrorist watch list. I understand that teachers are trying to err on the side of safety, but it’s common sense that a kid’s pop tart with two bites on the bottom left hand side, made into the shape of an L is not remotely akin to a gun or predicting a child’s intent to harm, no matter how many times they say bang-bang. It’s the adults that add context and intentions behind it.
They Shouldn’t Be Punished for Winning
Fined for success: football leagues in California are implementing a “Mercy Rule” where they’ll literally fine and suspend coaches if their team beats their opponent by 35 or more points (five touchdowns).
Under the thin veil of sportsmanship, it’s really to protect the losing team from getting their feelings hurt too much. However, this also protects them from revealing how bad they really are at football and knowing where they need to improve.
This impacts the winning team as well, who are encouraged to hold themselves back, run slower and be softer, all to be more sensitive to the other team’s feelings and to escape a financial penalty to their coach.
What kind of message does this instill in our kids? Both the winners and the losers won’t be able to function in the business world when they grow up. It will come as a shock when they receive negative feedback on something or aren’t as great as they think they are. Plus, the winners won’t have the strength and determination to push through diversity.
We Make Rules for the Sake of Rules
If punishing kids for being kids and fining teams for being great isn’t enough, some in Massachusetts are even punishing teens for making responsible and mature decisions.
An otherwise model student and captain of her volleyball team made the admiral and responsible decision to stay sober at a party and drive her intoxicated friend home safely. What did this irrefutably correct decision warrant? She was stripped of her captain-hood and suspended for five games for attending a party that had alcohol on the premises.
What kind of message does this send? How many potential DUI’s or deaths could occur because being a designated driver is actually being discouraged? If the reaction to doing the right thing is a punishment then the implications could be a possible generation of inaction.
While these may be extreme examples, we see small problems bubble up in the workplace. People avoid confrontation to tell employees that they’re doing poorly to save their feelings, then wonder why their behavior never changes. Policies are created as knee-jerk reactions that only cause more problems. Behavior is taken our of context because of lack of communication. Problems in our schools reflect society as a whole.
If we continue to try and appease everyone’s sensitivities no one will be able to speak their mind any more, and the good will continued to be punished.