Written by Mary-Todd Christan. Media by Jack Dawdy.
Once again there’s another news story circulating, making headlines of the injustice where someone has “offended” someone else. What is it this time? Did someone burn a cross on a neighborhood lawn or deface property with hateful words? I believe these two examples certainly qualify under the offensive category, but you might be surprised that the headline is unrelated to any of these examples. This time, it was a 9-year old, Texas boy who has been suspended for “threatening” another classmate with “magic.”
After watching “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies” with his family, Aiden Steward came to school one day, playfully claiming that he could make another classmate disappear with a ring like the one belonging to Bilbo Baggins. This is not Aiden’s first “offense” with his elementary school. Previous incidents included in-school suspension after referring to another one of his classmates as “black,” and for bringing The Big Book of Knowledge to school. (The book was considered offensive because it covered the topic of pregnancy.)
So why is Aiden Steward’s situation such a big deal, Other than he is a 9-year old with no concept of political correctness? I think Aiden’s incident brings to light a deeper issue. We as a society are so concerned with politeness and erring on the side of caution, that even normal acts such as spontaneous child’s play are being labeled as “offensive acts.”
Most of us are familiar with the phrase, “That’s offensive.” I know I go out of the way to not offend someone. Many of us can remember as children we were taught not to do or say specific things because they were deemed inappropriate. This can range from cursing, bringing up touchy topics in a mixed setting, or something as innocent as asking a woman her age, or weight. (Having done this once as a small child, this is something I would not suggest.) But this raises the question: are we doing more damage being careful than being honest? Here are a couple of my personal thoughts on the subject:
We use our politeness as a “moral crutch” to live by and act as we please without regard to any authority.
The song “I So Hate Consequences” by Relient K comes to mind with the lyrics “Running from you is what my best defense is.” Maybe this example is slightly a stretch, but isn’t this statement true? By not allowing ourselves to be faced with adversity, we are ultimately doing ourselves a disservice. We have become morally and socially numb all in the name of not wanting to offend. There has been a loss of the sense of right or wrong with a plethora of grey area in between. We decide not to face difficult issues, rather, we brush them under the carpet. The moment something arises that displeases us, we fall apart.
For those of us who are Christians, we are forgetting to use the Word of God as a mirror for how to respond when we are truly offended.
Ephesians 4:15 tells us that by “Speaking the truth in love” we will grow in our maturity in Christ in every respect. What much of our culture lacks is the ability to remain mature in the face discomfort. Many times, we adopt the mentality of “whatever is right and comfortable for me.” What happened to seeking understanding and forgiveness? Instead we become defensive and cry offense.
I feel that there is no true resolve to the issue of hypersensitivity in our culture at present. However, I believe that we should begin to evaluate our personal responses to sensitive subjects. Dare we discuss the uncomfortable, or put on our “precious” rings and disappear?