This year to date, has been an ‘interesting’ year. It wasn’t enough to leave us with apocalyptic wildfires in Australia. Planet Earth really piled it on by killing Kobe Bryant, taking us to the brink of a World War with the shooting down of a passenger jet, and then a global pandemic.
When the lockdown kicked off here in the UK, one factor noticeable by its absence was the lack of criticism of the government. Think back to March and the lack of Tory criticism on social media was eerie. Of course, it quickly came back once the Great British public had enough of staying cooped up in their homes and not being able to hug their elderly parents. Naughty Boris.
That absent disquiet came back in waves last month, sparked by the killing of George Floyd in the States. Within days, protestors were pulling down statues and demonstrating a blatant disregard for the social distancing measures designed to protect the NHS; a cause they were no doubt hypocritically applauding only weeks before.
I’m reflecting on the past six months after seeing the news that the Paraplanner Powwow movement is the latest victim of what I can only describe as a world gone mad.
Nobody I know within the Financial Planning profession would set out with the deliberate intention to offend others. We all subscribe to one professional code of ethics or another, agreeing to treat people fairly regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy/maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
I’ve got no issue with Paraplanners Powwow rebranding as Paraplanners Assembly. I do have to question though whether the justification behind the rebrand was a little hysterical, with its mea culpa and talk of cultural appropriation.
I would hazard a guess that a) at no point during the Paraplanner Powwow experience did a single attendee feel uncomfortable at smearing makeup on their face or sitting in a tepee, and b) not a single native North American has heard of or felt in the least bit upset about the original branding.
By playing this game, instead of simply changing the name to reflect current and future ambitions, there’s a significant danger of further validating a ‘woke’ culture and very dangerous precedence preventing any expression of opinion, no matter how innocuous.
The comedian Ricky Gervais once said that: “Just because you're offended doesn't mean you're right.” We’re now somehow in a world where people lose their jobs for expressing the ‘wrong’ opinion.
Nobody has the right not to be offended. Left-wing politics has placed an ungodly amount of power in the hands of a tiny number of individuals, terrifying the silent majority into further silence.
This subject is so important for the Financial Planning profession because I genuinely fear it will stifle the open exchange of opinions. Social media is already a minefield, only openly accessible to those with the thickest of skin and the ability to ignore the perma-offended brigade as they throw their toys out of the pram with the slightest provocation.
We become a better profession with the ability to debate respectfully with our peers. That ability to debate and elevate new ideas comes only with the safety to do so without fear of upsetting others; or, more accurately, others getting upset on behalf of others.
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