On Being Offended

Offended Eggs
(Image: canva.com)

Being offended is a choice.

Offense is taken, never given.

Oh, someone might try very hard to offend you, but actually being offended is your reaction. It’s not something foisted on you by someone else. It’s a choice.

Make better choices.

Taking offense is a form of judgement.

It implies you know the intent and the meaning and the background of whatever it was you found offensive. It implies You Know Better.

It also often assumes you believe the offending act or item is somehow directed at you or your group. You judge it to be offensive, and therefore you choose to be offended.

Consider for a moment that your judgement might be wrong.

You could easily misinterpret whatever it is you see. Even if you’re not, you could assume intent that is simply not present. How often have we learned about what offends others after the fact? We did not intend to give offense. Having learned, we take responsible action.

Choosing to be offended by someone’s ignorance misses the point. Without an intent to offend, not only is there nothing to be offended by, it also misses an opportunity to educate from a place of compassion rather than offense.

It also misses the opportunity to just walk away.

Even if the offense is clear, and clearly directed at you or yours, what does choosing to be offended accomplish? Does it get the response you’re looking for? Unlikely. Does it make the offense go away? Of course not. It simply deepens the divide.

Offense is often deeply personal.

When we feel offended, it’s because something is threatening our identity. That’s a moment of opportunity. Is the offense worth it? Is choosing to be offended worth it? Or is this an educational opportunity? Is it an opportunity to instigate change?

Is this an opportunity to learn something about ourselves?

Or is it just an opportunity to be the bigger person and walk away, knowing that choosing to be offended is likely to hurt only yourself?

Being offended is a choice.

Make better choices.