Saturday, December 14, 2013

America The Offended

Everyday I face a world where I find person after person who is offended over this or that. The political right often points to the left as examples of those most using offensiveness. I find that no political ideology has a monopoly on being offended.

Eric Bolling of Fox News interviewed the head of an Atheist organization. Bolling repeatedly stated how he was offended by the billboard pictured to the left. It's fair to state when you are offended by something, even though the billboard wasn't directed at Bolling personally. It becomes hypocritical when you often demand others not be offended. Free speech demands we have a thick skin and stop being offended by another person's free expression.

This is no different from the attacks on Megyn Kelly for saying that Santa Claus was white. The origins of the jolly fat man comes from the Nordic culture. Sorry, but those people were and are white. Santa has been depicted as white since the jolly old man's inception. This doesn't mean you can't have a black, Indian or Arabian Santa. It's a free country, decorate your home as you please. Have whatever Santa you want in your places of gathering. What must stop is being offended and using offensiveness to attack others.

Religion, holidays, flesh color, heritage, lifestyle, and many other things are being used to divide us for political and profitable gain. We are all forced to live on this ball of rock and must find ways to get along. I have spent hours watching Atheist and Christians argue over who is correct. It's insanity to believe either person is going to change their mind. Belief or non-belief isn't wrong as long as it's not used to harm or forced on another. Each have reasons for strongly embracing their belief or non-belief.

Those in government will use our social offensiveness against us in an effort to gain power. Someday I feel we never left high school where we were divided by differences. The Jocks on one side of the hall with academics on the other. There were the hooligans in one section with geeks in another. A few of us somehow managed to find acceptance in every group. I found there were the different groups because they formed prejudices about those in other groups. If you held no prejudices you could move between social groups.

I hold no prejudices for Christian, Atheist, Muslim, or LGBT. But I do have prejudices against individual actions. In every group mentioned there are those who are filled with prejudice and attack others for not being accepting of their belief or lifestyle. No amount of shouting and anger is going to make anyone accept you, your beliefs, or lifestyle. No law will end prejudice. We must all look inward and think before we speak ill of another simply because of their beliefs or lifestyle. This is the greatest part of being American, we can believe or live our lives as we see fit. No amount of hate and anger will make those for whom we have prejudices disappear. We must at times close our eyes and walk past the things for which we have prejudices.

When we turn to government and ask it to legislate in favor of our belief or lifestyle we are opening the door for tyranny. The current government might use the power given in support of our personal prejudices. The next government might favor those for whom we have prejudices and you suddenly find yourself on the bottom.

German Jews and Japanese-Americans embraced and empowered their governments and were later imprisoned. The patriotic current can change at any moment and send us crashing into the rocks. Beware of the power given to others over you. We often give government power over us and later find ourselves filled with regret. When we become offended we are giving power over us because they know then words can be used as a weapon.

The world in which we live and the one filled with politics are much the same. Social groups can be as political in nature as if you were on the Capitol floor. I speak often of the Dog And Pony Show (DAPS) and when we become offended by the speech of others we become a part of the show. Being offended is one of the greatest political tools ever devised. Stop being a part of DAPS and look for areas in which you agree so that we can work together in an effort to rein in an out of control central government. If you must be offended at something let it be the arrogant government in Washington. 

Today the only groups where it's acceptable to poke fun are those who live in trailers or the Appalachian Mountains. Terms such as hillbilly and trailer trash are tossed around as the butt of many jokes. As a southern rural person who once lived in a trailer park and might be considered trailer trash, I could take offense. I don't because I know it's often in jest. When it is intended as a derogatory statement I simply refuse to give that person power over me. It is they who must live with their ignorance – not me.

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