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Professor Irshad Manji, the author of Don't Label Me, believes "giving offense is the price of diversity, not an impediment to diversity"

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April 04, 2019 02:05 PM
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Irshad Manji thinks young people in American society have become too easily offended.

“I’m here to propose that while more and more schools are teaching young people how not to be offensive, they also need to be teaching a new generation how not to be offended,” Manji — an educator who recently released her third book, Don’t Label Me: An Incredible Conversation for Divided Times — says in a video for Time.

Discussions about what is and isn’t “politically correct” have dominated social media in recent years, but Manji believes “giving offense is the price of diversity, not an impediment to diversity.”

This is why she suggests schools should teach the next generation of adults — who will undoubtedly be debating politics and other polarizing issues — how not to feel insulted when faced with differing viewpoints.

“Teaching young people how not to be offended is to equip them to embrace people as complex individuals and not just as mascots of this or that tribe,” says Manji. “We grow by engaging those with whom we disagree. When we take offense, we’re in [a] reactive mode, and we miss opportunities to ask people why they believe what they do.”

The 51-year-old educator explains that when she speaks with people who have different opinions, she refuses to be “offended that they’re offended,” and instead tries to find common ground with the person — a lesson that young people could benefit from, she believes.

“Schools should be teaching students the how of not taking offense at everything,” Manji tells Time. “It’s a life skill. No matter what kind of life you have, to tackle nagging problems in your family, with friends, at work, in the wider world, you need buy-in.”

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“How do you get [buy-in]?” Manji continues. “Not by finding excuses to shame the hold outs, but by hearing them out. I’m not saying that we should clam up whenever we encounter intolerance or outright hate. Of course, we should stand up to it. The operative question is how.”

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Manji recalls a famous quote from martial artist Bruce Lee to help others understand how they can best follow that practice.

“Be like water. Water can’t predict where it needs to go, just as humans don’t know what the future holds,” she says. “But water always finds a way around or over or through obstacles. Not by labeling them. Not by demanding that they disappear but by treating them with grace. Think of it as moral martial arts. I’d go to school for that.”

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