Last December was the first time I spent Christmas in New York. Everybody, without exception, wished me “Happy Holidays”. Naturally, as a writer, I find repetition rather dull, and varied my response with “Merry Christmas”.

Utterly shocked facial expressions, glanced back at me, something between astounded and disgusted. It clearly conveyed the message of “Don’t you know that is offensive!?”

To be frank, no, I had never thought my well-intended Christmas wishes could be offensive. I have many Muslims friends, none of them failed to explicitly wish me “Merry Christmas”. Just as I never fail to wish them “Eid Mubarak” and write a “Happy Hanukkah” to my Jewish friends. One of my Muslim friends even shared a picture of a Christmas tree they had put up at home.

Here are some guidelines and reflections on political correctness, including suggestions for a revised relationship with it.

• What is the purpose of political correctness? It is a mean to enable all of us to co-exist peacefully. It is a sign of mutual tolerance and acceptance, like: “Hey, your traditions might be different from mine, but I generally recognize and accept you as the human being you are.”

• And yes, political correctness is absolutely necessary for our peaceful coexistence. It is a crucial guide towards mutual understanding and a sign of mutual respect. Especially in times like these, when the US Administration tries to ban Muslims of seven different countries from completely entering the country, and no week seems to pass without another new terrifying video of a black person getting mistreated and shot by police. Especially now, mutual respect and tolerance is more important than ever.

• However, it is time to acknowledge that in our efforts to be tolerant, we have taking our handling of political correctness a step too far. How can you seriously claim that wishing “Happy Holidays” would be insulting to Christians? I am looking at you, Fox News. By doing so, you abuse political correctness to distance people, rather than enable them to coexist peacefully.

• Also, the creation of so-called “safe spaces” – a place with calming music, cookies, coloring books, Play-Doh, blankets, and a display of puppies on video -, e.g. as Brown University initiated one when hosting a talk about “the role of culture in sexual assault” in 2015 – attracts by far more ridicule and scorn for victims of sexual assault than it could possibly provide safety. Wouldn’t be providing a reasonable number of educated and well-trained therapists and psychologists be a more soothing alternative for all? And wouldn’t this be a more responsible and more professional response as expected by an Ivy League University?

• The two most important aspects when dealing with PC are: not to forget its purpose and your very own reason. Before you speak, ask yourself: First, is it promoting mutual acceptance? And second, is it reasonable?

• Let’s not take our egos too far. If somebody wants to offend, he or she will find a way no matter what. But if somebody doesn’t wish to offend, we will notice the difference by intuition. It is someone’s intention that usually speaks louder than words.

• And let’s not forget about humor. Take it lightly. Coexistence ought to be fun after all! When did you last laugh and joke with your Muslim neighbor, your Hindi landlord and your Jewish friends? Having a heartfelt laugh together builds a steadier bridge than anything else.

This might be a tough challenge to some, but it is feasible. It is a question of how we wish to shape the world in which we live in. Personally, I chose one with more humanity, more kindness, more tolerance, respect, and a more light-hearted one.