Can YOU Be NOT Offended?
This post has been percolating in my mind for days, if not weeks. It took root in the final stretches of the election when tempers, emotions, sensibilities and anguish were simmering at all times often bubbling over with rage, tears, contempt and vitriol.
My own nerves were rapidly fraying and I found it difficult to speak to friends for fear my thoughts, ideas, views or words might offend them. Facebook became less MY wall and more a perfect field for the indignation of those who disagreed with me.
I began this blog over eight years ago, the purpose was simple … my literary agent told me to test drive my content to see if my voice resonated. I don’t know that it does, did or ever will, but what I do know is that it is mine. Facebook is a public forum it’s the online version of wearing your heart on your sleeve. Anyone can see what you lay bare. That is a choice you make. Share or not. Share as much or as little as you want. Here, however, you make a conscious decision to come here, to read, knowing you can stop any time if I bore you … people are not so inclined to attack as they are on Facebook.
So, here I am with these thoughts that have been swirling about, generated by the conflict between our inalienable first right amendment and how our free speech is received. Is there or should be there be restrictions with regard to free speech? Are there places that aren’t appropriate to speak freely? What is freedom of speech and what isn’t? Do you have to actually speak for it to fall under freedom of speech?
Now is about the time you could wonder if I’m nuts, but it’s quite simple. If I guard my words, if I do not speak my mind because I fear offending you … you’re literally infringing upon my first amendment right. If YOU guard your words, for fear of offending me, I’m infringing upon YOUR first amendment right.
So, are we really free to speak? Or, are we free to speak as long as we don’t offend?
As I was attacked daily on my Facebook wall, I realized there is a big difference between inadvertently offending someone and doing it purposefully JUST as there is a big difference between someone who happens to be offended by the words of someone and those who LOOK for offense.
When you take offense to something someone else says, does, wears or otherwise, you have given them the power to control you. Imagine you’re having a perfectly lovely day, it’s firing on all cylinders and then your mother-in-law makes an off hand comment about how you keep the home. Suddenly, you shift gears, being offended leads us to feeling like we must arm ourselves and fight. Frightening, isn’t it how easily someone can strip us of power.
There is a relationship between offense and defense. If you are offended, you defend. Simple. So, I wondered, if I refuse to take offense to something will I feel defensive? I’m a very defensive person, It’s something I’m actually embarrassed about. So, I have tested it twice when my husband said things I COULD have taken offense to and instead gave some thought to why he might be saying what he was saying. I chose NOT to be offended and so I didn’t feel like defending myself.
Is it ever truly anyone’s purpose to offend? Likely not.
Don’t get me wrong, there are people who go out of their way to offend others. Michael Moore is the paragon of offensiveness … to me. Perhaps not to others. However, I have NO respect for him, therefore, I dismiss what he has to say and do not allow it to strip me of my power.
The bottom line is, if you do not respect the person who is offending you, you shouldn’t be offended at all. If you do respect the person, do you really think they would do something or say something purposefully to offend you? Ask yourself.
I find being offended and taking offense exhausting and a complete waste of energy, so at the top of my New Year’s Resolutions is to stop being so defensive and in order to do so, I must be NOT offended.