Sunday, August 4, 2013

To Be Or Not To Be (Offended)

It seems that is all I hear any more.  "I'm offended by that language."  "I'm offended when someone says Merry Christmas."  "Your choice of breed offends me."  "I am offended because you don't like kids." "I am offended at your training method." "I am offended because you believe people are innocent until proven guilty."  (Yes, folks, that one actually  happened!) "I am offended by your offense to my comment about  your offense to the comment that offended me."  Seriously, I'm getting dizzy!

Looking for things to be offended by, and being offended in general is just simply exhausting and  I don't know how people do it!  I am waiting for the day when I am told that someone is offended because I am a female.  I think it's time for everyone to take a deep breath, and step away.  Think about why, exactly we are offended by whatever it is that has our knickers in a wad THIS time.  I work very hard to NOT be offended by things others say and do.  I use one litmus test, and I'm going to give you the secret.  It's one word:

I know, but hear me out.  When something bothers me, I try to step back and ask myself "what was the intent of comment, phrase, gesture, etc?"  Most of the time, the intent is a very benign intent.  Something is said that maybe doesn't come out right.  (I suffer from hoof in mouth disease myself).  Sometimes it is an offhanded comment where the humor has more to do with the wording, or the phraseology than the subject matter.  For instance:
Q  "Why was 6 afraid of 7?"
A  "Because 7 ate 9"

The humor isn't about numbers, is about the play on words in regards to the *8*.

When I see a comment or a phrase by someone I know or respect, I have to look at who I know that person to be.  My friends aren't mean spirited angry people, because if they were I wouldn't be friends with them.  So when something is said that hits me as "off", then there is probably a reason.  Either I've misunderstood.  (Yes, that has happened!)  Maybe because of cultural differences, a word means something different to them than it does me.  Perhaps is is simply that their understanding of a situation is different than mine.  (Think politics here!)  I generally find if I step back, take a breath, and consider what was said or done, that I will realize that my friend had no "intent" of offending anyone, and is often horrified at how their comment was received.

I just ask that when something strikes a nerve, do me this favor.  Take a moment to ask yourself what the intent was.  Maybe it will give you a new understanding or appreciation for the matter at hand and could not only broaden your horizons, but could possibly strengthen your relationship with that other person.  

I believe that people are generally good.  Give them the chance to be.

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