Eric’s Sunday Sermon; The Offense Taken
Perhaps we should crawl back into our turtle shell
Toss aside popular notions and rethink it
What a marvelous time we live in. It is so exciting to watch people’s reaction to being offended. First off let us be clear of how we talk about it. “Being”. As in state of being? The idea that one can effect the state of being of another is remarkable. I reckon it has become an acceptable way of thinking. Or should I say “state of thinking”. See I told you this was exciting. I write sermons. My hope is that I put you into a questioning and accepting state of thinking/feeling/being. Can we be in a state of faith? I just love the notion of “she is loving”. My mom was in a perpetual state of loving me. She sure showed it funny sometimes. See how I just tried that? I tried to get you into a state of questioning and openness. Really in this case I really only suggested some things so you could determine your state and decide to read on or move away. I would venture a bet that in fact I just offended some. Oh well.
Empathy. Empathy is a very interesting subject. Sympathy is feeling bad for someone. Empathy is feeling the bad that someone else is feeling. Kind of a “walk a mile in their shoes” thing. Empathy has good and bad news. As we exercise our empathy and really try be empathetic we find a good news bad news result. The good news is that we feel more deeply, the bad news is that we feel more deeply. The epitome of a two edge sword. But in the end a very important lesson in humanity. Now just suppose that I proclaim that being offended and being the victim is a state of being that is not rooted in a belief and moral structure. Let us just accept that concept for the time “being”. So I know you are such a fragile person without real firm roots regarding how you are. I must be empathetic and walk in your shoes. After my walk in life I simply cannot be sympathetic to folks who easily get offended. As far as sympathy goes, I just cannot extend it to you. But I can danged sure put on my empathy persona and “get it” from your position. I go so far in that direction that I cannot even have sympathy for me. So I go too far in that way. It is OK I am aware of it and act accordingly. I simply cannot demote you in my eyes to being a victim, I see people as champions not defeated.
We all have line in the sand. We just cannot have 1,000 lines in the sand.
Even if one is courteous they still may offend those looking for offense
I am afraid that sometimes I need to be offended
So back to that. I can empathize with you with very little effort. Therefor I can restrain from activity that offends you. I tell my son that he is not lacking discipline because he refuses to do chores or homework. NOT!!!. I offend him and his sensibilities. He may then cry. That is a behavior he is trying to use to manipulate me even as only 6 years old. If I fold on it, I reward him for crying. So then he somehow relates that feeling bad and crying is a good thing because it gets him what he wants. See the problem? Now look how easy it becomes if I empathize with him. I feel where he is coming from and where in fact he is coming from is doing negative behavior in order to get reward. I feel it, I know it and it ain’t cool. Therefor his crying is met by a great big intellectual and emotional kick in his pants. (no not yelling or corporal punishment) We do this by telling the child how his routine really makes us upset and that there will be consequences. Believe me a child of a normal four will get this.
So does this somewhat metaphoric notion set us into the right frame of mind to help the easily offended? Yes in fact it does. Just today I visited a AmVets store (please send them your money) I bought a softer baseball glove for my son. What appeared to be a crazy lady was going after the help because they had offended her in some way. Notice as I relate here I really do not give a rat’s patoody what offended her. But I can feel her angst and it is really because her two young children with her are being a problematic nuisance. She is stressed out. I can feel it. Heck I have been there and done that. So being the strapping large, preacher of several years. I say “I hear your pain can I help you”. OK I admit I did it for fun because I knew she would vent her anger on me, for even suggesting that I understood. She went off on me. The checker and the stocker of the store gave me respectively a wink and a thumbs up. I checked out and there the poor offended woman had no one to vent on and gave up on her offended person tirade. I am sorry but empathy in practice puts you in a place to see the person’s real problem as they cannot because they are emotionally invested and you are not.
Does the sea take offense at the land?
Get over it
Harsh reality perhaps you will take offense
So we come full circle back to this dynamic social progamme to protect those who get offended. We somehow think we can protect them, like the nurturing society that we are, by annihilating that which they perceive as offensive. That is like getting rid of all the booze in society because one guy is an alcoholic. That is supporting a serious mental aberration by making society be sick also. No! The offended need the help alright. But the help they need is in the understanding of not being offended, or being offended and not freaking out over it.
Bullying is a great subject because we see how society is teaching their children. A bully when I was growing up is a guy who beat you up and when he was done pants you and put your trousers up a flagpole. Today a bully is someone who does not respect your safe place. Actual violence is like non-existent. A child who always wins at a sport is somehow a bad bully. Someone who says “you are a boy” is discriminating.
So I write. Oh my oh my, my work is put up to ridicule and criticism. If you come down on me; 1. I am offended, 2) You are a bully 3) That is on me not on you. 4) I can stop publishing my writing. 5) I can lead by example whichever way I go. Strength or weakness. Perseverance of Victim. There is a guy that pretty much preaches and people get all offended he talks like he does and follows a Christian script. They need him to follow a script quoted directly from the Bible and they need him to be poor and not mega=rich and he must act certain way and they are offended he does not. Heck the man gives us good stuff. If we choose to be offended we miss out on great ideas like “be a victor not a victim”. Around here we call a motivational speaker with good Christian ideas.
So this bottom line is not at all a blame it on the victim idea. OK I am lying. Today our victims do not need healing they need strength. They do not need sympathy they need empathy with a resulting reality. We say that if you do not stand for anything you will fall for everything. Put that notion on those who are offended. They do not stand for anything so the slightest offense will make them fall.
Teach your children and friends strength not offense.