Let’s all get real for a moment. Have you found yourself getting offended today?
Being offended seems to be the new black. It’s all the rage. Everyone is doing it.
Only, it’s not cute, stylish or fun—and no it doesn’t look good on us. It’s ugly and it reeks of ignorance.
We are facing a serious epidemic right now, America. But it’s not what you think; it’s our egotistical ignorance. It seems as though we run around just waiting to take offense over something. Waiting for someone to act in a way that we can make all about us—so we can be offended.
When we choose to be offended, we give someone else our power. We hand it right over to whomever just offended us, and thus we become a victim. Do you want someone having that much power over you? I sure don’t.
I caught myself the other day in the midst of taking offense that someone I once held in a reasonable amount of esteem had unfriended me on Facebook, most likely due to my refusal to cave to the fear-mongering around one presidential candidate or another. I started to think, “How dare he unfriend me because I’m not drinking the Democratic Kool-Aid anymore?” But then I stopped.
I realized that a belief is not a fact. It’s nothing more than an opinion based on someone’s perception of how the world works. I thought about how much I loathe someone telling me what to think or how to act. I thought of all the choices and beliefs I’ve made through my life and how much they probably offended someone at the time I made them.
It was then, with a resounding thud, that I landed in a place of humility. And that’s where I found a space of loving-kindness for everyone, no matter how little I understand their choices.
I took this as a chance to explore myself, my beliefs and my process. I discovered that I was just disappointed and hurt because I thought this person and I had a mutual earned respect for one another. I had an expectation of him. When I realized that this person did not value me or my acquaintance, my ego was furious. “Don’t you know who I am and all I’ve done for you?”
I had to laugh at myself. I just can’t take myself that seriously anymore. Amongst all the absurd chaos that we are calling society and politics right now, there’s not much I can take seriously.
Here’s what we keep forgetting:
Your actions have nothing to do with me and mine have nothing to do with you.
Sure, our mind would have us believe that everything someone else does revolves around us, but sadly enough, this is false. Anything that another person does, says or believes is a direct reflection of where they are at that moment. That’s it. When we can pause and ask ourselves, “Why do I think everyone who doesn’t agree with me is wrong?” we find only one answer: Ego.
When we can stop and ask ourselves, “Who the hell do I think I am to tell everyone else what they should believe?” The only answer is this: God.
We are neither ego or God.
Being offended when someone doesn’t agree with us is a sure sign that our ego is running the show. Me judging you for not agreeing with me is me saying that I think I know better than you what’s good for you and the world. And when we look at it like that, it’s pretty absurd.
Look, I understand the fear that’s permeating every aspect of our society right now. I see it. It’s tangible. But I also see through it, because I’ve chosen to embrace my fellows from a place of love rather than fear and judgement.
But don’t get it twisted.
It’s not always easy. Some days, it’s really f***ing hard to hold a space of love as I watch my fellow humans choose hate, blame, violence and ignorance over and over again. And I don’t always understand people’s choices. But you know what? I don’t have to, because they aren’t mine to understand. I respect their right to make the choices they feel are right for them at any given moment. We are each on our own journey here, and we need to start respecting that.
So if you’ve found yourself offended lately, trust me, I get it. There’s enough ignorance in the world right now to offend a rock.
We can choose to stop taking ourselves so seriously in the face of all the madness. I keep these quotes front and center to remind me:
“Every day we have plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed or offended. But what you’re doing when you indulge these negative emotions is giving something outside yourself power over your happiness. You can choose to not let little things upset you.” ~ Joel Osteen
“To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.” ~ David A. Bednar
“If you’re offended, it’s your problem.” ~ Salman Rushdie
“When you are spiritually connected, you are not looking for occasions to be offended, and you are not judging and labeling others. You are in a state of grace in which you know you are connected to God and thus free from the effects of anyone or anything external to yourself.” ~ Wayne Dyer
“Humans are nervous, touchy creatures and can be easily offended. Many are deeply insecure. They become focused and energized by taking offence; it makes them feel meaningful and alive.” ~ Michael Leunig
“I believe in absolute freedom of expression. Everyone has a right to offend and be offended.” ~ Taslima Nasrin
“Offendedness is just about the last shared moral currency in our country. And, I’m sorry, but it’s really annoying. We don’t discuss ideas or debate arguments, we try to figure out who is most offended.” ~ Kevin DeYoung
“You never know what people will choose to be offended by.” ~ Gilbert Gottfried
“When you are offended at any man’s fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger.” ~ Epictetus
The definition of “taking offense” is “to feel resentment or emotional pain.” So the next time you find your blood starting to boil and the offense rising, ask yourself, “Why do I feel emotional pain over this person’s choice of belief? How does their belief hurt me?”
You may just surprise yourself in what you find.
May it be of benefit.
What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve taken offense to lately? Comment below. Let’s all have a good laugh at ourselves!
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Editor: Toby Israel