I always wondered if by being diplomatic one borders duplicity. For some reason, right or wrong, I am not a big fan of diplomacy because of this reason of sounding or looking duplicitous. In America, political correctness is a prevalent idea. According to the dictionary, politically correct means to speak or act in such a way that no one (especially based on sex and/or race) be marginalized or offended. Diplomacy on the other hand, although overlapping in concept with political correctness deals with the art of interacting with people in a sensitive and effective way. To express an idea without so much offending the values of another. This certainly is an art and an art I am very much lacking. Anyways, this is not about me!
I always wondered how such a nuanced art of diplomacy or even political correctness relates to the art of devotional service especially when we outreach to other individuals. Sometimes, it is necessary to be blunt but certainly many times it is warranted to speak diplomatically without sounding disingenuous. For the untrained ear, this may seem as compromising of values because does it mean we are devaluing the position of bhakti in relation to social etiquette. Today as I was reading Chaitanya Charitamrta, I found this definitive statement in one of the purports.
"The conclusion is that diplomacy used for the service of the Lord is a form of devotional service" - SP purport to CC Madhya 12.44.
Srila Ramananda Raya was speaking diplomatically by praising King Prataparudra in order to soften the mind of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu being a sanyasi did not want to meet a pounds and shillings person in the form of the king. Yet, Ramananda Raya very astutely glorified the qualities of the king just so Mahaprabhu will one day meet the king. This diplomacy to help another soul approach God is a direct form of devotional service. Similarly, if we also speak, according to the culture we are in, in a way that softens the heart of the listener so they are inclined favorably about bhakti to Krishna, then from this verse, we can understand such diplomacy or political correctness is nothing but devotional service. Certainly, this requires training and practice, nevertheless it is heartening to know that any form of art be it fine-arts or the art of communication, if it can be somehow engaged to get closer to Krishna, is another form devotional service (and not necessarily duplicity as I used to once think).