Recently I experienced something I felt was wrong. A decision was made, and I felt the reasoning behind it was very unfair. Have you ever experienced this? Have you been a part of something that you felt was right and good, only for it to be deemed wrong? I would honestly be surprised if the answer to this question was not YES for everyone; however, just because the answer is YES does not mean it is right or good.
Part of the beauty of being human is that God has blessed each and every one of us with our own mind and the ability to make our own decisions. Free will, baby! The way we think, what we believe and how we determine those decisions is taught to us by people who influence our lives. Our parents, a teacher, media, our peers, etc. We gain truth and knowledge every single day of our lives, and while our core beliefs may not waiver, our way of thinking will mold and change all the time.
Shane wrote something a while back and within what he wrote, he talked about the simplicity of a fundamental rule of thumb — “treat others the way you would like to be treated.” It’s so simple, yet so far away from where I feel we are today. This world is so crazy, so hard and so very confused right now.
I recently read an article about our very controversial president of the United States, Donald Trump. The author of the article is not a fan of him, but he was reflecting on something Donald Trump said at the 2016 GOP primary. President Trump said, “I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. I have been challenged by so many people and I don’t, frankly, have time for total political correctness, and to be honest, this country doesn’t have time either.” After the quote, the author wrote, “Maybe the orange man does have a point for once. People don’t have time for political correctness. But people don’t usually ask to be politically correct. What people are really asking for is to be inclusive. To be respected.”
Hmmm… politically correct vs. inclusive — I have never thought of it that way. I look at it now and see more clearly that political correctness is extremely motivated and in a lot of instances, it can go against your core values. It is plain and simply seeking validation from others by avoiding certain words or doing and saying things because everyone else is. Even if you don’t agree, you would much rather avoid being viewed as a bad person, so you agree, which is in an attempt to strengthen a relationship while maintaining a difference of opinion.
Being inclusive is a mindset about being good and is internally driven. It can be parallel with politically correct views, but it never conflicts with your values because being inclusive is itself a value. You avoid marginalizing those who are already marginalized. You try to be a better person to other people and actively look for ways to do so without compromising your values. It’s about making others feel comfortable around you, developing values of empathy and concern for the other.
Looking at both of these, I honestly don’t believe I am able to be inclusive of everyone because of my values and beliefs. I also know that there are times when I am most definitely politically correct, and I am sure we all straddle this fence to some degree, partly because we are human and partly because this is the world we live in. And it’s a dog-eat-dog world. But, I do believe everyone should take a stand for what is right and what is wrong.
I do believe everyone should seek the truth, and I do believe everyone should strive to be the best version of themselves. We are not perfect, but we should strive to see one another’s views and world experiences in order to be more accepting of others in a continual attempt to gain knowledge and be great at who we are and what we do. We all see this world through a different lens, and that is awesome because if we allow ourselves, we can learn so much from one another.
How does this relate to our industry? I believe it relates in the same way as I see it relating to our day-to-day lives. This industry cannot stand on the status quo. Doing things the same way because that is the way it is has always been done is a recipe for failure. Along with that, accepting the status quo ensures no change.
Change is good. Will the Western performance horse industry go away? No, it won’t, because people love doing it and love their horses. But as I walk around a trade show that seems now a ghost town and I notice a big-time vendor that has been there for years is no longer present, and I sit in stands that are mostly empty, I see change in a direction none of us want it to go.
Who am I? I am only one voice and in the scheme of things, I am no one important. But, I am going to take a stand to say that I encourage everyone who loves this industry to take a hard look at what is happening. It doesn’t matter who you are — if you are at the top of your game and an industry-influencer or if you are just starting out trying to make your mark — we are all in this together. Are we all working together to promote something amazing and beautiful? Or are we all so afraid to cross these imaginary lines that have been drawn in the sand because of our innate sense of being politically correct? Are we not rocking the boat, trying to “strengthen” a relationship while maintaining a difference of opinion.
As the president of this great United States said, “There is no time for total political correctness.” Membership numbers are not increasing, entries in shows are decreasing, sponsorships are hurting. Imagine the Super Bowl being paid for by the Patriots. How does that make any sense? I wasn’t around for the days of old, but I have heard the stories of how things used to be — the “glory days.” How do we get back there? I want to be a part of that movement! You all may hate me after this; I hope not because I am honest when I say I am writing this out of love for all of you. I am still starstruck when I see all the greats of this industry, and I feel truly humbled and honored to know some and work among them.
We need to come together with ideas of change. We need to be committed to it — all of us! I will make the commitment to do whatever I can to help in any area I can. I am more than willing. I love this industry, I love the people in it and I for sure love these amazing horses! I write this as a message and a plea.