Who are you trying not to offend

I just read an article about a band who had their photo taken with a well known public figure. The point of the article was whether the band worried about having a photo with this person. Their response was that taking a photo with someone does not mean agreement with everything that person says.

This begs the question of how much time and effort we spend thinking or worrying about who we might offend. That seems like a lot of work though many in the public eye apparently are expected to pre-plan every action with that concern in mind. Like most people, I am surrounded by those with a completely different and often opposing world view.

The media asks mostly stupid questions when interviewing someone. Questions like, ‘Do you feel like having a photo taken with (pick anyone) could damage your image?’ The obvious answer is of course! We live in a time when offending anyone is as egregious an act as doing physical harm. So standing next to someone, taking a photo together, having lunch together, crossing the street at the same time, standing in the same line for anything at all makes you a part of that person’s agenda. Give me a break.

I could hear the voices saying ‘Well you certainly would not want to say or do anything that might be considered offensive’. I wouldn’t? Really? Offensive to who? If I was to assume that half of everyone disagrees with half of what I believe then half my time would have to be spent tailoring my words and actions to keep from being offensive. I’m exhausted by the thought.

The trick is to learn not to be offended at anything, even if it comes from someone whose effort is deliberately meant to provoke the maximum degree of offense imaginable. I would much rather have a very honest conversation and take a chance to offend or be offended than to have to adjust for much of societies’ lack of fortitude and inability to live in a world where not everyone is in agreement.

No one should need a safe space or require therapy because someone challenged their ideas. Nor should anyone have to justify his or her own beliefs. That isn’t to say that believing in something makes it right. Saying anything doesn’t make it right. But don’t expect everyone else to agree with you or to accept what you think as legitimate. And don’t get all bent out of shape because they disagreed with you.