Amie Beth Shaver: Being offended can make us better, but it can't save us
Some people looove to feel offended because it makes them feel important. When your only tool is a hammer, suddenly, every problem starts to look like a nail. And when the only time you feel relevant is when you claim to be offended, suddenly everything looks offensive.
― Oliver Markus Malloy, Inside The Mind of an Introvert
Imagine that your kids attend a school where somebody requested feedback. A survey, if you will.
Oh, joy! Finally! They want to know what we think - what's good and what might be improved.
Sounds fantastic, right?
The school was deeply offended by comments that suggested that there was anything to improve.
They went so far as to label concerned parents as malcontents.
Now, imagine that the school buried anything negative.
Then suggested that ignored parents say only pleasant things about the school.
Why were they offended, and why did they silence opposition?
A British House of Lords member, Claire Fox, was interviewed at TEDx talk regarding her book, I Find That Offensive! She's the director of the Academy of Ideas.
A former Marxist became conservative.
She noticed several years ago that college students used words that shut down debate. She saw that people on college campuses were not allowed to argue back.
Why did those students suppress debate? Why do any of us?
From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Religion and Ethics page, written by Hugh Breakey and published July 13, 2020: 150 high-profile authors, commentators, and academics signed an open letter in Harper's magazine claiming that "open debate and toleration of differences" are under attack. Signatories included J.K. Rowling, Margaret Atwood, Stephen Pinker, Gloria Steinem, and Noam Chomsky.
While prefacing their comments with support for current racial and social justice movements, the signatories argue there has been a weakening of the norms of open debate in favor of dogma, coercion, and ideological conformity. They state, "an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty."
Are we that insecure about ourselves and our beliefs? That we essentially dump the drawers of a person's life because they offend us? Because they think differently than we do? Because they come against our God-like self-image?
In our “I'm offended” state, don't we all, in one way or another, notice another's flaws while ignoring our own?
In our insecurity, don't we embarrass, suppress, and shame because it makes us feel better?
What has happened to the following view that "offensiveness is the motor of human progress," offered by Brendan O'Neill during a talk at the Oxford Union Society?
Being offended isn't always wrong. It can be good.
If we're paying attention, it allows us to ask the question, why are we offended in the first place?
Being offended forces us to think through what upsets our delicate predilections.
It offers us the chance to head back to the drawing board of ideas.
Being offended can make us better.
But it can’t save us.
Being offended can’t tell us why we desperately need to be right. Or, why we want to gain power over others through coercion or shame.
But God can.
His word tells us that the human heart is, above all else, deceptively wicked.
Who can know it?
Isn't that our struggle since the beginning?
When the serpent said to Eve, "Did God really say?" And she bought into the deception?
Wasn't that the moment when our original parents crowned themselves God and called it even?
Incredibly, there is a way out of the abyss.
I believe we can eliminate our perpetual state of the offense.
We can return to a culture that respects and values each other.
If we'll turn to the one who made us and who knows us best.
The book He left for us was once our filter.
We read it, and IT read us.
It informed how we lived and how we treated others.
It taught us not to have contempt for our fellow man but, instead, consideration.
It taught us how to think and consequently how to behave toward others.
God's word changed our hearts and our lives.
This holiday season, let's start there.
With the Truth of God instead of humanity's lies.
Amie Beth Shaver is a speaker, writer, and media commentator. Her column appears every Wednesday in 1819 News. Shaver served on the Alabama GOP State Executive Committee, was a candidate for State House 43 and spokeswoman for Allied Women. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.