“Individuals who deliberately decide not to take offense, lead happier, more productive lives.” – Lloyd D. Newell
Everyone makes dozens of decisions every day. What to eat for our meals, whether to exercise, what travel route to take to work or the store, etc. But in our interactions with other people, there are also choices to be made. When someone says something we disagree with there is a multitude of options from which we can pick. We can ignore the comment. We can confront that person with counter arguments. We can respond with a humorous action or words. Or we can decide to be offended.
Here are some examples: At the Academy Awards, when host Chris Rock made an indirect joke about Will Smith’s wife, Jada’s lack of hair, Will at first smiled. After apparently getting an evil look from Jada, Smith walked up on stage and delivered a devastating slap to Chris Rock’s face. Showing the utmost professionalism, Rock continued with the show.
After seeing his wife’s reaction, Will Smith chose to be offended. He then decided to react violently. If Will had ignored the joke, this situation would have been over with Chris Rock’s next joke or comment. Instead, months later, Will is apologizing and trying to get Rock’s forgiveness. Now Chris Rock is the one who is ignoring, which is what Will Smith should have done in the first place.
Golfer Lee Trevino tells about doing some yard work in his front yard. A lady in a white Cadillac pulls to the curb, slides down her window and asks if he speaks English. Lee said, “Yes, ma’am, what can I do for you?” The woman then asks, “How much are they paying you to do this yard?” Trevino responded, “The lady in this house lets me sleep with her.”
Lee Trevino could have taken offense and responded in a righteously indignant manner. He could have replied with words to the effect that just because he was Mexican didn’t mean he was a gardener. Or he could have asked the woman if she didn’t believe a Mexican could live in that neighborhood. Lee chose not to be offended. He responded with wit and humor. I’m sure the woman was embarrassed and drove off in a huff, but if she had even a hint of a funny bone, she had to laugh sometime later.
The most aggravating people are the ones who choose to be offended by a situation they are in as a result of their own wishes. In 2016, while speaking at the Democrat National Convention, Michelle Obama, her voice cracking with emotion, seemed to be offended when she stated, “…so that today, I wake up every morning, in a house that was built by slaves.” She could have expressed her appreciation for the hundreds of thousands Union soldiers who lost their lives fighting to end slavery during the Civil War. She could have thanked those anti-slavery Americans like Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and John Brown. No. Michelle Obama chose to be offended that the White House was built by slaves.
It is an eye-opening fact that how one responds to situations and other people and remarks tells us a lot about that person. Someone who chooses to be offended by every perceived slight or long-ago past history, must live an angry, pathetic existence, even if they’ve lived in the White House or million-dollar estates on the bluffs above the ocean.
Those who choose to take offense at the words of others need to remember the best advice given in kindergarten, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”