I’ve had this thought for a while, but never really delved into it or could figure out how to put it into words without someone getting offended (ironic?). But I just read an article the other day that seemed to get the ball rolling. Definitely worth a read! But please keep an open mind.
I don’t necessarily believe we’re being “trained” to get offended, but I definitely agree with the rest of the article. We’re too quick to get offended, to give in to knee-jerk reactions, which are often rooted in fear, hate, judgement, insecurity, etc. Those feelings aren’t helpful and only cause other people to become defensive or to react with fear, hate and judgement themselves. This doesn’t open the door to intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate conversations, which are what we need more of.
It feels like we aren’t allowed to say or do anything without being shamed for it. And don’t get me wrong, I definitely believe there are some lines that shouldn’t be crossed, however, when someone can’t have an open, respectful conversation about issues, when there isn’t a “safe space” to express how they feel without being yelled at, the problem isn’t going to go away. They’re just going to suppress it more or bond to like-minded people with the same view, which will only help to create an “Us versus Them” mentality, dividing everyone even further. When you approach someone with an attitude of hate or judgement, they’ll respond in a similar way and put up even more resistance. Basically, the more we get offended, the more it will shut down constructive dialogue. You can’t guilt or shame someone into change.
Here’s a prime example from Sarah Silverman, responding with compassion to a person who called her the C word on Twitter. Hate and anger are often just thin veils people use to hide hurt and pain, so by responding with love, it opens the door to better, deeper conversations.
I believe it’s important to ask questions in order to understand WHY someone is the way they are, instead of simply jumping to conclusions and assuming we know who that person is. Everyone has a story as to why they believe certain things and it’s way more productive to ask questions and get to the root cause of that belief instead of immediately becoming offended, which will only break down the communication pathways. Often, people don’t even fully KNOW why they believe certain things so opening up a conversation can help to illuminate these reasons and perhaps lead to a positive change (or at least plant the seed).
However we also need to be able to explore our own beliefs, fears, insecurities, inner demons etc, and ask why WE get offended or react in certain ways, because that’s often an indicator of what we need to work on as well. Are we hurt from a past experience? Are we insecure about ourselves? Unhappy? Scared? Just because someone says something that triggers us, doesn’t necessarily mean they shouldn’t say it or they deserve to be lashed out at. We need to learn how to get to the root cause of WHY we were triggered by what someone said and work on that instead, which involves deep inner exploration. After all, anger can simply be a response to other deeper, unprocessed emotions. We can’t keep focusing and placing blame on external sources for how we feel. The physical world is just a mirror of our internal world, and so it’s the internal shift that will be the catalyst to create lasting change.
But in the end, we need to know that not everyone is going to believe the same things as you do and to be honest, it’s unreasonable to expect that. Life is simply our perception of it, based on our own experiences, so everyone is going to view things a little differently (which makes life more interesting, in my opinion!). It’s not a matter of finding out who’s “right” and who’s “wrong”, but instead it’s more about meeting in the grey areas to try and understand where people are coming from. Or to simply just agree to disagree. There’s already way too much hate going around, so why add more fuel to the fire? It clearly isn’t working, so let’s try being compassionately curious instead and see what happens. #lovetrumpshate