Offended. Or Not.
Instead we get a daily barrage of offenses taken. Whether or not offense was intended doesn’t seem to merit discussion. Being offended is an emotional perspective. And like all emotional perspectives, it’s a choice. You can take offense, or not.
All this nonsensical rhetoric about the offensive behavior of adults when the National Anthem is played. Those behaving badly say they don’t intend to offend anyone. Then why do it? You’ve offended half the world! Disrespect to the flag disrespects what it symbolizes. What it symbolizes is everything that makes it possible for you to be a wealthy star and have such prominence and voice. If you can’t respect that, then give all that up. You can’t? Then I guess that makes you all the biggest hypocrites this country has ever seen. Your behavior is offensive, but it doesn’t offend me. It makes me angry. There’s a difference. You’ve offended the nation.
Last week I saw posts-gone-viral, all these complainers offended because of the words our President said while consoling a war widow. He said the deceased soldier knew what he was doing, knew when he went in. Anytime anyone knowingly and willingly gives his life for another, or for a noble cause, and dies for that, he is a martyr. Our President was acknowledging that martyrdom. And the temperamental haters went ballistic, offended by his words, when nothing offensive was said, or intended.
One facebook post this week complained about a younger store clerk calling an older woman, “young lady.” She was offended. I can see a boy trying to be adult in his job, casual maybe, clumsy. But offensive? I’ve a friend, who every time I walk in the door of his store, says “Well, hello there, young lady!” He’s the same age as me, neither of us young. I’m not in the least offended. It’s another way to say, “Hi, I’m glad to see you.” We can choose to be offended, or we can consider the intention.
Coincidentally, the same day I read about someone being offended at being called “little lady,” this happened to me in the breakfast room at my hotel. I walked in, a man tipped his hat and said, “Good mornin’ pretty little lady, can I pour you some coffee?” “Thank you kindly,” I said. “I’m not a coffee drinker.” I’m also not in the least bit offended. No offense was intended.
I never stopped saying “Merry Christmas” to everyone I meet during Christmas season. I also wish my friends happy birthday and Happy Hanukkah. If they’re offended by my greetings when no offense was intended, the problem is of their own making; I offer no apologies. Yet, I read a man’s comment on being offended that at the drive-thru at Dunkin Donuts the staff says, “Have a nice day.” He said he’s able to have whatever kind of day he chooses and it’s no one’s business. He’s offended that people think they can invade his space by wishing him a nice day.
When did Americans become so fragile? So thin-skinned? So suspicious of the motives of others? So self-encapsulated? If someone out and out slanderous, says something suggestive or filthy, take issue. But taking words and intentions out of context and taking offense at everything is not healthy. Most of us are not brilliant orators or wordsmiths. Much of what comes out of our mouths isn’t what’s in our hearts. Yet we expect others to express themselves perfectly and poetically for our benefit, so we won’t be offended. We’re all just tiny specks in a world that does not revolve around us. If no offense is intended, no offense should be taken. Toughen up, Americans.