EVERY time I hear it, I’m reminded of a cold afternoon in Heidelberg, when the Army gymnasium’s commanding officer said "here we don’t have problems – we have challenges to overcome”, right before he almost destroyed one of my buddies’ career and proceeded to spend the remainder of his years in the army denying the problems in his command and neglecting to "rise to the challenge”.
In contrast, a Special Forces NCO once told us "clear communication is vital in the Special Forces. If the situation is f***ed up, you must say so. That way your superiors can make decisions based on accurate information”.
Whenever a politician uses the term "challenge” I am reminded of this annoying trend to soft-pedal the truth and obscure the true extent of problems and crises we face.
According to our professional lip-flappers, we have a "housing challenge”, "service delivery challenge”, and so on. They NEVER say "look folks, we’re up the proverbial creek without a paddle – we deployed people who don’t know what they’re doing in posts which require expertise AND they’re stealing money because we don’t fire them”.
Worse, the rest of society has followed suit – they say "sex workers”, "teenage transactional sex”, "mentally/ physically challenged”, "sales executives” and so on.
Suddenly we don’t have prostitutes, minors selling their bodies for airtime, mentally/physically handicapped people or salesmen anymore...
Why? So that corrupt officials become "self- enrichment specialists” instead of crooks or thieves? Is it because we have become so afraid of confronting the problems plaguing our society that it’s easier to believe if we change their labels they’ll be easier to fix? Or worse – are we just plain and simple cowards?
Is political correctness helping or hurting communication and social interaction?
M Negres, Port Elizabeth