OPINION – Many years ago, I offended a friend with whom I attended high school. I knew I was in the wrong but before I could summon the courage to make things right, she moved away.
Over the years, my conscience occasionally reminded me of what I had done. Several times I dreamed that I had encountered my friend and I always took the opportunity to apologize to her.
Waking up and realizing it was only a dream left me with the discomforting sense of unfinished business.
Many years later as I interviewed a representative from the local community college on my radio show, I was shocked to realize that my friend was the woman sitting across the studio from me. She had changed enough from high school that I had not recognized her.
I could see a knowing sparkle in her eye as I finally made the connection and the moment the microphones were off, I told her, “I have an apology I’ve waited 12 years to deliver.”
I explained how she had weighed on my conscience and I asked for forgiveness for offending her so many years earlier.
To my surprise, she told me that she had long ago forgotten my offense and that she actually had considered our high school friendship a positive turning point in her life.
It’s hard to describe the sense of joy and relief that I felt as we visited. We remain friends to this day.
It’s extremely rare and refreshing today to find a person who isn’t chomping at the bit to take offense. Political correctness has increasingly polluted the public intellect to where even when no offense is intended, it’s a certainty that plenty will be taken.
No matter how innocently a person may express his or her opinion, there are always opportunists eagerly parsing every word for the slightest hint of insensitive thought.
Those who actively seek reasons to be offended feel curiously free to make demands of the rest of us, however unreasonable or irrational.
School mascots are declared to be racially or culturally insensitive and banned. Sexism is found to be lurking in every board room. Societal norms, mores, and traditions are systematically dismantled in favor of more ‘acceptable opinions’.
It’s curious how everything we knew before must now be discarded and replaced by what the chronically offended insist we must think. You’d think that somewhere throughout the history of mankind, those who came before us might have actually figured out a few things correctly.
Nope. Apparently, only our cultural vanguard possesses the discernment necessary to know what is acceptable.
Now the perpetually offended have doubled down on their efforts to control the rest of us by adding a new source of outrage called microaggressions.
Microaggression is said to occur when a member of a dominant culture, or gender, says something that belittles or alienates a member of a marginalized group. Here’s the kicker, the belittling or marginalization doesn’t have to be deliberately insensitive.
It can be something as simple as asking another person where they are from. The key isn’t what we say or even how we say it, it’s whether the person listening chooses to take offense. In other words, we may have an unconscious bias that can only be detected–and denounced–by self-described victims.
How’s that for a potential minefield?
Blogger Matt Walsh does a masterful job of deconstructing this new tactic when he writes:
The great thing about the ‘unconscious bias’ shtick is that it allows someone to infer offensive meanings in what you say, while preventing you from defending yourself by assuming that you don’t actually know what you mean or how you feel. In the bizarre world of contemporary progressivism, only the Offended Person can tell you how you really feel, even if it isn’t how you feel. Essentially, you feel however the Offended Person feels you feel. Got it?
At the root of this hyper-sensitivity is a not-so-altruistic lust to exert dominion over others. If others refuse to submit to the demands of the terminally offended, they can often be shamed into silence over confusion as to what they can still safely say or think.
The perpetually offended have nearly succeeded in making taking offense our new national sport. Some notable figures are living proof that it pays to be perpetually offended.
So where does that leave the rest of us?
None of us will get through life without occasionally being offended. However, we are not obligated to take offense. It is a choice.
Choosing to let go of offenses, whether they were intentional or not, is a happier and more productive way to live. But only if you’re into that sort of thing.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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