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David Larbi: Growing Pains

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

This week, I saw a video of a man who was irate at what he believed to be the policing of language in today’s society. One of his examples was: “You can’t even ask for black coffee anymore because you get told that it’s offensive!!” He was utterly serious and produced several other equally ridiculous arguments. This kind of thing used to bother me but recently, my perspective has changed. Attempts such as these to trivialise real issues by using fake and ridiculous arguments to undermine a genuine cause is common and utterly typical, in fact that is has its own Latin name – ‘Reduction ad absurdum’, meaning ‘to reduce to the absurd.’ If people are struggling to keep up with the things that they’re being told they should no longer say or do, then I am extremely pleased and entirely unsympathetic for very good reasons. 

A lot of the things people are used to saying and doing are being highlighted as harmful and it’s easy to understand that people are finding difficulty in being told that what they’re used to is no longer okay. It’s tiring having to think about the things one does and feeling like you might get in trouble for unwittingly offending without meaning offence. Although I understand this fatigue, I have no sympathy, because the well-being of those affected by our learned harmful behaviours takes precedence over this temporary minor discomfort. We are all culpable of doing and saying the wrong things when we lack the relevant education and information, but once you are in possession of this, there’s no excuse and no level of personal discomfort that justifies continued harmful behaviour. Having to evolve and grow can be uncomfortable but it’s painfully necessary, more so now than ever. 

The level of discomfort we are witnessing is ultimately a positive thing, I know it’s in response to the sheer volume of correction that is going on. People who have been discriminated against are finding their voices and confidence in the great swell of social justice of the moment, and as more stories are shared, more issues will be talked about and the more positive change will occur.

Inclusivity is not pie in the sky, it’s a real and tangible objective and the uncomfortable adjustment period that we are going to go through will be so very rewarding – we cannot arrest our efforts to satisfy reactionary anger and petulance. 

Let people be uncomfortable. It’s going to happen. We have to persevere through the uncomfortable nature of berating ourselves and hold ourselves to higher standards. I won’t be told that I’m being sensitive by those who have tantrums when they’re told to treat people more respectfully. Growing pains are worth the final product.

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