What is political correctness? Here's what it does — and doesn't — mean.

Showing others kindness and respect is a virtue, not a flaw.

What is political correctness? Here's what it does — and doesn't — mean.

Political correctness is running amok! Or something.

What is political correctness? You may have noticed that term floating around quite a bit these days. And if the way it's being used is any indication, it's a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing.



Death by P.C. culture! The most painful way to die! GIF from CNN.

From the sound of it, political correctness is responsible for the slow destruction of American culture, drug abuse, acts of terrorism, and even comedy!

Jerry Seinfeld is not having it, you guys. GIF from "Late Night with Seth Meyers."

But when you look at what the term "politically correct" actually means, it paints a much different picture.

This is a cliche way to start any argument, but bear with me. Merriam-Webster defines "politically correct" as "agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people."

"I started imagining a world in which we replaced the phrase 'politically correct' wherever we could with 'treating other people with respect', and it made me smile." — Neil Gaiman

Other dictionaries give similar definitions, but what it basically comes down to is political correctness means not being a jerk to others. Political correctness is nothing more than treating others with respect. Being kind. Being a nice person.

And, yes, this means maybe not calling someone a racial slur and not making judgments or assumptions based on stereotypes.

It's nothing more than being a nice person. GIF from "Tangled."

To illustrate the true meaning of political correctness, just install this genius browser extension.

Byron Clark released PC2Respect, a Google Chrome extension that automatically replaces the term "political correctness" to "treating people with respect" on any web page.

Just a few samples of the greatness that is the PC2Respect extension.

Clark was inspired by a blog post that author Neil Gaiman wrote in 2013:

"I was reading a book (about interjections, oddly enough) yesterday which included the phrase 'In these days of political correctness…' talking about no longer making jokes that denigrated people for their culture or for the colour of their skin. And I thought, 'That’s not actually anything to do with "political correctness". That’s just treating other people with respect.'

Which made me oddly happy. I started imagining a world in which we replaced the phrase 'politically correct' wherever we could with 'treating other people with respect', and it made me smile."

Give it a try.

Take any quote using the term "political correctness" (or a variation on that), and replace it with "treating people with respect" or "being nice."

The result is both funny and eye-opening.

For example, during one of this election cycle's primary debates, Donald Trump said, "I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct." When you swap in the actual definition, what he's really saying is, "I think the big problem this country has is treating people with respect."

Or, for another example, New York Times opinion writer Ross Douthat wrote, "'The demands of political correctness' can indeed 'act like an acid.'" Now imagine that same sentence with the correct definition: "'The demands of being nice' can indeed 'act like an acid.'"

Kind of funny, right? And even when you question the most basic statements being made, the results are pretty obvious.

For example, is "being nice" killing people? No.

And when you think of it that way, political correctness isn't such a bad thing after all.

Political correctness is about respect and kindness, not life and death. The examples listed above ("the decline of American culture," drug abuse, terrorism, and "the death of comedy") aren't the results of political correctness. Laying blame at a concept of respect rather than underlying issues (such as poverty, the War on Drugs, our country's foreign policy decisions, and people simply not finding certain comedians funny anymore) is a major cop out.

GIF from American Bridge 21st Century.

Political correctness is actually just being nice. It's not censorship. It's not an infringement on your First Amendment rights (you can go on Twitter and tweet whatever "politically incorrect" thing you'd like, and I can pretty much guarantee you probably won't be arrested for it). It just means showing some basic respect for other human beings. The same kind of respect and kindness we expect others to give to us.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

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Dr. David McPhee offers advice for talking to someone living in a different time in their head.

Few things are more difficult than watching a loved one's grip on reality slipping away. Dementia can be brutal for families and caregivers, and knowing how to handle the various stages can be tricky to figure out.

The Alzheimer's Association offers tips for communicating in the early, middle and late stages of the disease, as dementia manifests differently as the disease progresses. The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers advice for talking to someone with various forms and phases of dementia. Some communication tips deal with confusion, agitation and other challenging behaviors that can come along with losing one's memory, and those tips are incredibly important. But what about when the person is seemingly living in a different time, immersed in their memories of the past, unaware of what has happened since then?

Psychologist David McPhee shared some advice with a person on Quora who asked, "How do I answer my dad with dementia when he talks about his mom and dad being alive? Do I go along with it or tell him they have passed away?"

McPhee wrote:

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!