Get Over It

There is little less interesting in this world than a cry of offense.

Everyone has their own pet peeves, strongly held beliefs, personal causes, demons, family tragedies, favourite music, and hang ups. One approach to dealing with this rich tapestry of toes, is to be forever on the alert lest one inadvertently make someone else feel bad. The other, is to get over yourself, and insist others do the same.

The Golden Rule, dating back to (at the absolute latest) Confucius, is a simple mandate to treat others as you would be treated. It is core to Christianity and Judaism (though, for the overwhelming balance of their joint history, that rule applied only to other Christians and Jews respectively) and is likely innate to all of us. That said, the Judeo-Christian golden check and balance for poor behavior breaks down for assumptions.

I am not interested in not being offended. There is nothing in my makeup that insists my worldview is in the least bit deserving of respect. I may defend it with vitriolic passion and boundless energy, but in no way am I bruised for someone who might mock it, dismiss it, or demean it. I welcome the criticism when it is intelligent and well argued, and ignore it when it is presented poorly or merely ad hominem. Regardless, my panties will never twist for someone who might think I am full of it.

Be that as it may, offense should never be an end unto itself. Merely saying or doing something purely to cause grief in other humans is rude, or nothing is. However, the flip side of the responsibility of politeness, is to never assume something was said only for the purpose of causing offense. To assume the offender is causing offense for its own sake is to break an important social contract, and smacks of dreary cynicism. Apply the golden rule: would you like someone who has taken something you said poorly to assume you were only doing it to bother them, or would you rather them give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume you had good reason to say what you did?

So, I apply the golden rule, and for doing so I am uninterested in what causes offense. My advice for those easily hurt, get over yourself, it is likely a central tenet of whatever it is you believe in, often termed as “selflessness.”

Robin Lindsay




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