"It requires an extraordinary level of intellectual and emotional barrenness to confuse political correctness for politeness or genuine cultural sensitivity." Abhaey Singh.
The reality of human existence has always been one of diversity, particularity and dissimilarity. The most heroic contributors to human civilisation - and to the story of nations - have been individuals and cultures with distinct perspectives and propensities to those of the prevailing norm. Edmund Burke, Subhas Chandra Bose and Nelson Mandela would not have been the towering figures of their respective eras had they not spurned the prevailing attitudes of the day, and forged new paths for themselves, their people, and their countries.
Similarly, the Jewish, Indian and Chinese diasporas would not have consistently produced the over-achievers that they have - whether in the classroom, the laboratory, or the boardroom - without inherent value systems that underpin their behaviour and worldview.
'Diversity is divinity.' An Indian saying.
Whilst thriving sub-cultures and path-breaking individuality have exemplified the importance of diversity and uniqueness as an engine of humanity's progress, they have also created problems. Some cultures have subjugated others, despotic regimes have brutalised their own people, and small groups of powerful individuals have usurped the resources of vast populations and territories throughout history.
In our context, historical misdeeds and contemporary injustices that do not define the 21st Century Great Britain that many of us identify with, have been drawn upon by a 'liberal' elite, often politically motivated, as an irrational tool of self-flagellation and dilution of Britishness, rather than as a fulcrum of rational introspection and analysis in its own right. Instead of specifically challenging past and present injustices for what they are, their response is to denigrate, dumb down and dilute the broader essence of British culture.
Moreover, when clumsily stumbling through insidious policies that supposedly enhance 'multiculturalism', and by inflicting the worthlessness of political correctness upon all of us, the same custodians of national detraction prove how unintuitive, unevolved, and unfit they really are to navigate this critical domain of contemporary statecraft. Rather than foster respect between cultures, they instil fear through the curtailment of reasonable expression; instead of encouraging mutuality and reciprocity between communities, they fuel reverse-polarisation and resentment using disingenuous policies of appeasement. The cultural and intellectual poverty that this crudely simplistic approach breeds is akin to the material and social poverty generated by communism. It is, in fact, of little irony that the roots of political correctness and coerced cultural homogenisation are to be found in communist philosophy and modus operandi.
A cultivated sensitivity and intrinsic, effortless deference towards all communities is the trademark of a self-assured and rooted culture. Conversely, the policing of thought and curtailing of free speech is the hallmark of befuddled neophytes, and of fundamental disservice to the nation. The former requires belief in one's own culture and an innate faith in humanity, not the superficiality of codification, the artificiality of affected vernacular, or the imposition of edict. It permits people to live and let live. It allows both the majority and a myriad of minorities - not just in Britain, but in any nation - to thrive individually, yet in harmonious coexistence.
It emphasises the values of tolerance - or better still, compassion and generosity of spirit, and asserts the primacy of kinship and brotherhood between all. It transcends the oversimplified 'melting-pot' approach to cultural integration, to the inspired 'thali' approach, as beautifully enunciated by Dr. Shashi Tharoor:
" ..the nation that I want to encourage all of you to build, imposes no pressure to conform. It celebrates diversity: if America is a melting pot, then to me India is a thali - a selection of sumptuous dishes in different bowls. Each tastes different, and does not necessarily mix with the next, but they belong together on the same plate, and they complement each other in making the meal a satisfying repast." Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Indian Minister of State for Human Resource Development.
This leads us to the title of this article. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Lord Jesus Christ. It should be celebrated and honoured as such, and not dumbed down because ham-fisted social engineers believe that a direct referral to Lord Christ's Mass may alienate a handful of people. That argument is as feeble, illogical and divisive as those which postulate that we should not fly the Union Flag or celebrate St. George's Day.
Atheist, 'anti-theist', Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Sikh, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Jain, Confucianist, pagan - whatever your faith or belief systems may be, if you are British, please boycott the use of - and purchase of cards bearing - the positively disrespectful term 'Season's Greetings': it is a direct insult to one of the most important institutions in our country. That institution is not a mere 'season', but an annual commemoration by the name of Christmas.
Whilst my community is known for its inherent sense of patriotism and service to the nation - be that India, Britain or Kenya - it should not take a net-connected Sikh perched on a bench in a semi-rural part of India to make the point that I have. The fire to protect indigenous culture, the desire to demonstrate love and generosity of spirit ('tolerance' is passé and insufficient) towards other cultures, and the will to demand the rejection of political correctness and destructive social engineering from national life should permeate the consciousness of every Brit - or for that matter every citizen, of every country. This is not, after all, a matter of skin-deep semantics or vacuous vocabulary, but instead one of social harmony, national unity and Britain's progress in the 21st Century.
A blessed, Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.
Abhaey Singh is the Chairman of Kauzala, and the President of the The Indian Debating Union. He is best known for his talks on India and values-based leadership, and for his popular rap video 'Talk It Out - Debaters' Rhapsody', which promotes civilised debate.