Why it’s so easy to offend people

Photo by CloudVisual on Unsplash

To be “offensive” to someone means that you are causing someone to feel hurt or anger. Will we ever be able to avoid this issue, though?

We live in a world where it’s now not okay to state your specific values or beliefs unless you’re going to be completely inclusive to everyone and everything, even if that means you go against your values and beliefs.

Wait… What?

Right. So, therein lies the paradox of this whole thing.

If you’re going to be offended that I believe in God, or that I don’t necessarily support sins in general, what am I supposed to do?

We can’t go around believing in our beliefs with the expectation that everyone else is going to believe in our beliefs, too.

We have to be okay with each other. Today, you really can’t say much without offending someone. I majored in Social Work. You think it’s fun for me to be the white, Christian, male in class that comes from a rural town and grew up in a two-parent home?

I’m like the villain in the story of modern society.

I now feel a negative stigma for coming from where I came from.

Here’s the thing, we can’t force people to believe something. We can’t force people to behave a certain way, and we can’t force, what we deem to be truth, onto other people.

I personally believe that I don’t purposely do anything to offend anyone.

Believing in something, supporting something (or lacking in support), or expressing an opinion that is different from yours — if none of this is inherently bad, how does this become offensive to someone?

We don’t examine ourselves enough. That’s the conclusion I’ve come to.

It’s almost a requirement now to be sensitive in saying any little thing. Let me use an example that always makes people cringe. I’m even going to blow up the example so that you have no choice but to see it.

I don’t believe that men were created to be with men, or women to be with women.

Now, where there does it say that I am against a gay person or that I dislike gay people?

You might say, “well, you are obviously not in support of a foundational belief of theirs”.

Okay. So, does that mean they are in support of all of my foundational beliefs, then?

No, they aren’t.

In fact, there’s a good chance that they don’t support the God that I believe in — my most foundational belief. My identity lies in Christ. Their identity may lie in being gay.

Just because we don’t support each other’s foundational beliefs, does not mean one person hates another.

It simply means that it is necessary for us to accept one another’s differences in order to live on this planet alongside each other.

If we want to get along, we have to stop being offending by someone else’s beliefs.

I think the greater tragedy here is when someone feels that they have to stifle their beliefs because it is no longer “mainstream”.

I mean, simply going around and claiming that I am a Christian or a follower of Christ sometimes makes people cringe. Why?

Do I understand less about life or something?

To be clear, I am against hate speech of any kind. I have a diverse group of friends. Yes, some of them are gay.

I am expressing a greater concern in general, though.

As a society, we’re having a tougher and tougher time being tolerant of one another.

All I know is that differing beliefs should not create hate.

Because of my faith, I really believe that the greatest ethic of all is Love.

Love drives out hate like the light pushes back the darkness. Darkness is simply the absence of light, like hate is the absence of love.

If you find yourself becoming offended because someone believes differently than you, maybe you need to sit down and have a conversation.

That’s the problem. We aren’t having conversations. “Meeting” someone now means that we know their political views and nothing else about them.

We don’t know that they were abused or that their sibling passed away recently. We don’t know that they’re a single parent working two jobs.

We don’t know because we don’t care enough to know. What we seem to care most about — agendas — are the very thing that create this divide.

Social media has given us an avenue to just express and argue. It hasn’t given us an avenue to build relationships or to just sit down and have a conversation.

You don’t support or believe that my God is who I say he is. That doesn’t mean I throw out any opportunity to get to know you. In fact, it probably means that I want to have a conversation with you, so that I don’t identify you as “that person that doesn’t believe in God”.

Sometimes the issue is that we have very strong opinions, and we jump to sharing them right away.

Maybe we all have strong opinions. The problem is if we all share them all the time, we’d leave very little room to understand each other. We’d open the door to separation, and honestly, this is where becoming offended comes from.

We want to be able to share our strong opinions without someone else being able to share theirs. That’s a difficult reality to try to live in, day-in and day-out.

There’s a pretty cool Heineken ad that portrays the type of thing I’m talking about. You can find it here.

If you don’t watch it, you’ll have to settle for my very brief overview.

Basically they put people in a room that have complete opposite beliefs. After they have a chance to chat and get to know each other, they show videos (that were previously recorded) of the people expressing their political views.

Once they realize they have very different political views, they sit down to have a beer with one another and talk it out. The reason they’re able to do this is because they actually had gotten to know one another a little bit. They built a relationship prior to talking about their personal beliefs.

So, lets try that. Instead of getting real offended by somebody and shutting out their beliefs, get to know them as a person, first.

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