I once learned to not beat myself up so much by looking at the number of things I DON’T struggle with. It was very helpful that I could look at what life could look like if I entertained “other” sins. That being the case, one thing I DO struggle with but don’t beat myself up over (I’m getting better…kind of) is my humor. Yes, I still sometimes look at the line of what is appropriate and blow right past it and other times I never even notice that I’m miles past it. However, I’m doing all right at still being funny without offending. That may just be about to change though.
Rachel heard Ricky Gervaise (of all people) say something the other day that has caused me to pause quite a bit. He has hosted the Golden Globes three times. During his monologue, he really offended many different people. He said in an interview (paraphrased) “what people don’t realize is that you TAKE offense. We don’t GIVE offense. It’s on you to take offense or to be offended.”
Hmmmm (wheels turning). Now that is interesting. Are you telling me that we are able to say whatever we want all willy nilly like without worrying about the repercussions? Nooooo, can’t be? Can it? There is quite a bit of validity to his point. In many ways, that is one of the things that have, in my opinion, gone wrong with our world. Everybody is sooooo sensitive and politically correct. We have to be sooo careful so as no to OFFEND. We hear so much about how we were so offended by what someone said. Ricky Gervais’ stance is that it’s on you if you are offended.
I then, as a true social scientist would, thoroughly examine this theory by just thinking about myself. Do I get offended often? What offends me? Who offends me? I came up with the answer. Not much, if anything? Make fun of me? No. Make fun of my heritage? No. Make fun of my faith? No. Make fun of…cancer? Who does that? Even then, no. Do my feelings get hurt by what people say? Sometimes. Maybe. But am I offended? No. You have the right to say anything you want to.
Let’s look at it from a wider point of view. In the news lately is a video made by some individual that the Muslim world has taken great “offense” to . This is nothing new. It is widely known that anything that depicts their religion or deity in a less than perfect light is an offense and they will be so offended as to riot and kill in response. On the other hand you have Christians. There was a nationally funded artist who drew a painting of Jesus on the cross submerged in urine. It is known as P!ss Christ. Have Christians embraced this mans depiction of their Lord and Savior? No. Have they been offended? Some have I’m sure. Have they taken to the streets and rioted while calling for the artists death? No. Personally, it just makes me sad. Sad that this guy (or woman) found it to be “artistic”. Sad that he obviously misunderstands the love and grace that Jesus offers. Sad that this piece travels and people go to see it. Offended? No. Knock yourself out kid, it’s your world. Go express yourself.
Anytime I believe we use the word “offended” we are mistakenly referring to hurt. It is what we do with that hurt that determines if we are offended. If it turns to anger (which can be ok) we are offended. When we are hurt it can also lead to fear, guilt, or even self condemnation. These are much more destructive inward consequences of being hurt. In these circumstances I do not believe we would say that we were “offended”. We would say that something “hurt our feelings”.
Am I saying that individuals should not monitor what they say and consider the feelings of their audience? Not at all. Am I saying that people have used “being offended” as a blanket statement that actually says, “I don’t agree with your point of view and would like you to stop expressing it, let alone having it?” Yes, yes I do.
I have to tell you. That is the furthest I have ever gone to excuse myself for making jokes about body functions.