Being offended seems to be the phrase of the day in our time. We feel we have the right to express offense at anything we don’t agree with. It doesn’t mean we’re correct in our thinking, it has become a catch all phrase which often is an excuse for our own bad behavior or as a defense mechanism against those who take a stand which opposes us.
A while back, my husband was teaching a class in archery. Because this. like any sport that includes a weapon, comes with rules for safety and respect for the weapon. A woman and her three children were his students at the moment. They were dressed in traditional clothing from their homeland, including birqa. My husband proceeded to tell them that the clothing could be a hindrance as well as a safety issue. He was simply stating a fact that would keep them from getting hurt. The mother replied that she was offended by his statement. No matter how he tried to explain the reason for his concern, she wouldn’t budge. She became more and more belligerent. Eventually she was so angry that she said she would leave the store and tell all her friends never to come there because they would be offended as well.
This may sound extreme and perhaps my husband’s motives were being misinterpreted, but he sincerely was concerned for their safety. The fact that she just kept repeating the offense she had been handed may have been a lack of communication. It may have been a language barrier. There could’ve been any number of reasons, but it struck me as interesting that she could speak these words fluently.
When we don’t understand another’s motives – intentions – words – the best thing to do is to walk away, but this woman was creating an unnecessary scene laced with anger more than frustration.
How do we handle this seemingly unending rage? Jesus told us to turn the other cheek. The world tells us to defend ourselves – to fight back. So much of our conversations today are filled with misunderstood words. Many times we don’t even communicate face to face and words can be totally misinterpreted when written. Too often we jump to conclusions without listening to each other. That leads to confrontation and argument and in the end, someone is going to be hurt.
Instead of going on the attack when we’re offended by something, wouldn’t it be much easier to listen first, assimilate what has been said and then react? If this process were used, perhaps people wouldn’t be so offended.