I believe it can be scientifically demonstrated that there is a direct relationship between how easily one gets offended and the narrowness of their mind.
Yes, this statement is supposed to be a joke. But what makes us offended? It is when we ascribe our own beliefs about someone’s motivation to their speech or their conduct. We assume we know more about the intent of someone than they do themselves. We apply our own prejudices, biases and understanding about life into someone’s speech, rather than opening our mind, and stepping back and really asking ourselves, “is this person really the person I think they are?” Sometimes they are, often they aren’t, but too far frequently we are so quick to react. Just because we ourselves may assign certain judgments to a situation, doesn’t mean everybody else thinks the same way. This is something we have to seriously consider before jumping to conclusions. It takes an open mind to do this. You can’t do this when you are offended.
An example is the Confederate flag. For some people, yes, it is a symbol of racism and slavery. But there are other people who simply do not share that association. To them, it represents Southern pride, community, what have you, completely devoid of anything having to do with racism. It is easy to immediately brand them as having a racist motivation for flying the flag, because that’s OUR particular association. It takes patience and a really open mind to dig deep behind the true reasons why people do things.
Did you find yourself suddenly bristling at my mentioning of the Confederate flag just now? Question is, why? I’m not defending the flag. I’m simply trying to make the salient point that too often we try and force our own associations into somebody else’s motivations. For some, the Confederate flag is the symbol of American racism, that’s all it can ever be. Since that’s how they view the flag, everybody must as well, therefore it makes sense that by extension, those people would be racist. And now we’re offended. For the Confederate flag flyers, they get angry that those accusing them of all sorts of horrible things cannot understand the more delicate nuances behind what the flag means, and therefore, they get offended back. They refuse to understand the sensitivity that others may have to the flag, and instead vow to fly it stronger and higher out of spite. In the end, walls are erected, and the divide grows.
The Confederate flag is a perfect example of what I’m talking about, but there are so many other examples out there. Too many times the past few months, I’ve seen people get outraged over articles that reinterpret what a certain political figure has said, out of context, in order to portray that individual in a predetermined construct. Talk about Fake News, they’re all FAKE, right and left! Go to the source and consider the context, not only of the entire speech, but of that person’s collective works and speech as a whole. And do so with an open mind. Respond, don’t react. Walk away. Seek truth. If we do, I think we will be amazed at what we become.