Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How to Be Offended

We need forgiveness and someone to blame.

Walter Mosley

Behind my Wizard of Oz Mask: a pale writer,

near-sighted, close-minded, anxious, full of still

small voices: it’s not easy to raise the dead.

No one said it was.

Well, it’s not..

No one said

it was.

I’m walking here!

On three legs, sure,

but never the less:

I’m walking here!

(“Midnight Cowboy”)


Conversation—real conversation—is possible

only between people who share a world-view

at the deepest level. Given that shared world-view,

all sorts of topics may then be broached, all sorts

of disagreements risked, without putting an end

to the conversation and to the relationship.

Over the years, I’ve come to view offense as a

particularly useful state of being – but only

when the offense one feels is used properly.

Most people view being offended as an excuse

for shutting down, even going (you guessed it)

on the offensive. They refuse to be party to

whatever offensive material is being presented

to them, whether it’s someone making a sexist

joke or a politician’s attack ad.

The superficiality of conversation in our time

has to do with the absence of such a common

world-view. What we do have is something

very fragmented—viewpoints rather than


Consider the kinds of situations that make

us feel offended. We take offense when:

We are confronted with situations radically

different from those we’re used to.

And for lack of a world-view, we hold on to our

viewpoints with passion.

We experience situations that conflict strongly

with our own values. Our belief systems are

challenged or dismissed as inadequate. We

are labeled or otherwise treated in ways

that are inconsistent with our self-image.

How then is conversation possible?

Y-Fu Tuan “Dear Colleague” Emeritus Professor

of Geography at UW Madison. & Dustin Wax

“How to BE Offended” Stepcase Life Hack


We may be a faculty full of rebellious creativity,
sound & fury—to fight for, to die for: if the 
opponent is Rush L, or Glen B. or Bill O, 
sure: but basically and essentially, 
eyebrows to toenails, we are:
                Politically Correct.
             pedagogically proper
           cerebrally conservative
            collegially collegiate  


Rebels with a Because
Creative in the Name of Sustainability
Recyclers for Planet Earth

Not that there’s anything wrong with THAT.
(Just describing here. Not a judgment.)

xxxooo, Presbyter

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