Happy New Year, Happy HP Anniversary
Celebrating the 6th Anniversary with the New Year
It’s neat that my HubPages anniversary passes near the year’s end, close to a time when I have a chance to think over a few things for the new calendar. A topic has been buzzing around much of what I’ve read and heard lately and, finally, it has come into focus in the form of a question.
What’s so Bad about Being Offended?
The word offense generally means to break a law, to feel insulted or dismissed, to either defend someone or some thing, or attack it. The various definitions used for this same word are an interesting study in themselves but my focus is mainly on feeling insulted.
Living in a society that says feeling offended is a tragic thing caused me to begin thinking through whether we are on the right track with the notion. At first thought, the good idea of not hurting other people’s feelings seems to be at the root of it all.
However, a second look at the idea is a bit unsettling. Imagine a world where offending someone was against the law. Sounds a bit too familiar in our current sociopolitical climate, actually, but seriously, think about the ramifications.
Have any of us ever hurt someone’s feelings inadvertently? Expressed our own true feelings when we did not realize how doing so would make another feel? Not felt well physically, emotionally, or spiritually and so not responded as we would have if we were not suffering in some way ourselves?
How about in writing? Have we not at some point tried to express ourselves in writing and found that others did not understand our intention because we had not been careful enough, had not taken enough time to think through and then to proof our own work? These questions are just the tip of the iceberg.
Consider what it would mean to make any of that against the law. Depending on who you talk to, some say that fines, public humiliation, and even jail time are viable solutions. Besides courts being already quite busy, imagine the increased tax burden we would all bear for addressing such laws!
Free speech is the obvious big concern regarding the issue, but much has already been written on losing it. Just a mention of it is all that this hub needs, though it could be helpful for readers to add input on that facet of this topic in the comments below.
Do you think hurting others' feelings should be outlawed?
Can Being Offended have Benefits?
What would it mean if we were never offended by another person so that we had to stop and rethink our words or actions? What would the world be like if we never had the chance to see some error we are making, to perceive a misunderstanding, or were never given the chance to review an issue so we can restate our case more clearly?
Those are some genuine positives. They are opportunities to help us grow and hone our thinking, our words, and our actions. It’s easy to see that the concept is nicely wrapped in the truth of how we should value our critics.
If offended we get to choose to go on the offensive or step back and think through a response that would provide personal growth and which could possibly have the potential of helping other people, perhaps the offender as well as onlookers.
Stepping backwards is an act that strengthens us even if the offense is outrageous. If we will move away from our feelings and address the issue by seeking wisdom and encouraging ourselves to deal with it in an honestly reasonable fashion we win no matter the outcome of the issue at hand.
By setting our feelings aside we gain important things like strength and insight and skill for continuing to deal with the current issue and for having best responses to future ones. Instead of being degraded and demoralized we are invigorated for clearer thinking.
We can wind up in the proverbial fetal position sucking our thumbs or we can move forward with confidence that we are at least seeking the best for everyone involved rather than becoming like an offender, insisting that our feelings are the most important part of life.
So what’s the problem with thinking that our feelings are one of life’s priorities? The answer is so large that it’s overwhelming at first thought, but let’s at least have a start with hurt feelings.
Feelings change, ebbing and flowing as thoughts race, hormones rage. and situations evolve. Feelings can switch from disinterest to white hot anger faster than time moves forward.
Hurt feelings can convince us that revenge is called for when we are offended, that offenses to our emotions always require retaliation. They deceptively deny malice’s malignant work in our souls.
Hurt feelings demand singular attention to their whims and they worsen dramatically if they do not get their stipulated flattery. Such feelings blind and cripple us to truth that could honestly help us.
Generally, feelings, if permitted, are relentless in their requirements and too often separate us from family and friends, commonly leaving them confused. The master named emotion inexplicably obliges his servants to serve only his shifty will.
Manipulative people zone in on those who live by their feelings, using their handicap to control and injure either physically, mentally, or emotionally. While it’s true that there are various good and bad feelings, we need to consciously keep them under control because facts we may not be aware of trounce the entire spectrum of human sentiment and passion.
It’s not that we should completely dismiss our own or others’ feelings. Not at all, for there are many reasons we need to be keenly aware of them. Some are to be enjoyed, but on topic, if we dismiss them we lose a valuable tool in difficult situations.
For instance, we need to consider what they are doing to us or others at any given moment so we can respond appropriately, with compassion if the need warrants it or with levelheaded authority if that is required for the well-being and safety of everyone involved.
Real Life Application Side Notes
Training in the medical, sports, police, and military disciplines teaches people to focus on what the real needs and/or goals are in situations. Many people who go through those disciplines find that the focus they learn to maintain in the face of offenses (impediments) allows them do well in other areas of life.
The other side of the coin, though, was highlighted for me by a personal situation that recently came up. My husband and I had the chance to discuss the truth of how if you build a bridge to an enemy he will cross it. A rule that says do not negotiate with terrorist tells us that bridge building is not always a bright solution.
It is delicate business to determine whether an offender is someone in need who can be helped or simply settled with so all can walk away safely, or whether they are a true enemy. Learning from experience with people is generally helpful but that does not happen if we live by our feelings.
While playing nice so everyone can get along is a lovely proposal, compromise, bridge building, agreements, deals, bargains, treaties all mean less than nothing to a true enemy. They are simply more tools to be used for harm.
In most of our minds, hurting people's feelings is never the goal, particularly on personal levels, but it happens. We live in a fallen world that is not evolving for the better. If you are familiar with much of my writing you know something of what I mean by that statement and how thankful I am for God's grace.
We can all ask ourselves if we have learned to take authority over our various feelings rather than letting them rule us. Communication reached through active listening is known to be helpful when negotiating offenses we encounter in life, but it cannot be accomplished if our feelings get in the way.
Focus when Feeling Offended
Primarily, what matters is that basing responses to situations on facts is the real need. We should train ourselves to remember that before reacting we need to realize that not only do we not know all the facts of why someone offended us, we probably never will. That alone should help us have a more mature reaction.
By getting to that point quickly we can move forward in bad situations on a foundation of strong influence that could bring positive results, possibly even preventing or stopping true harm in its tracks, though it may be that a mature reaction will help us think about the wisdom of how walking away is sometimes the only way to diffuse an offender.
That we will be vexed in life is an important fact to understand. We need to build young people's character by showing them how best to respond to inevitable offenses rather than teaching them (or allowing them to be taught) that they should uselessly rebel at insults. Grievances may be valid, but the best responses to them have to be learned.
Learning that they can give deliberate consideration to situations rather than emoting situationally will serve them well in life. It allows them to look past the immediate and examine ways to address issues in meaningful and lasting ways as they grow up. It expands their thinking in ways that take them above and beyond ruffled feathers and even severe wounds.
Ending the Rambling, Moving Forward
So, what does all this have to do with a HubPages anniversary and the New Year? Well, as I begin to peel back the layers of the principles involved, I come at the process from the perspective of wanting to continue to refine my writing.
Previous anniversary hubs have touched on polishing my work and how much I have to catch up on, but it feels good to begin the year with a more defined idea of approaching writing on the basis of working to let facts outperform feelings.
Related concepts, such as discovering whether purported facts are, in fact, facts come to mind. New year goals definitely need to include applying the gist of the associated ideas to my writing, which still includes going back to improve past hubs I've not yet worked on.
For now, I hope this post will give others a chance to have interesting discussions about the kindred issues and implications of disallowing offenses. If you are so inclined, mature and responsible discussion in the comments section below is most welcome. Many thanks to all who have read to this conclusion and examined this theme with me!