I wrote last time about our individuality and uniqueness. It seems the Universe has seen fit to place some lessons in front of me about the “dangers” of being just that – an individual and unique. This is probably a result of that old energy of “conformity” raising its ugly head as it takes some dying breaths. Be that as it may, I have been placed in several situations where, without intending any offense to anyone, I created immediate offense without even trying.
For those who know me, even just a little, they know that if I mean to offend someone on purpose, there will be no doubt in anyone’s mind that that’s exactly what I meant to do. Being a Taurus, there is no subtlety in me when I am angry or meaning to confront someone. (It does take a LOT of bs from someone for me to do that though.)
It now leads me to ask the question, “Why do people get offended so easily?” We seem to have become pretty thin-skinned, at least in this country, when it comes to someone expressing an opinion that doesn’t fall in line with our own. Why?
A very long time ago, I was introduced to a piece of “humor” that goes like this, “You know what happens when you ‘assume’? It makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’!” It seems like a real ‘groaner’ where humor is concerned. If you take the time to think about it though, there’s some real wisdom in what’s being said.
I’ve written a number of times about fear and doubt and how they can keep us from fully experiencing Life. Both fear and doubt are learned emotions. We didn’t have them when we were small children. We were taught what to fear and to second-guess ourselves – doubt – what we feel. This all came together to form a belief system in each of us. This belief system, this philosophy of Life, that we create based on what we’ve been taught, is all-encompassing. It forms the foundation for our spiritual, cultural, political, etc. perspectives on our lives. It also causes us to make assumptions.
We begin to stereotype people and situations. Unlike when we were children and looked at everything and everyone in awe and wonder, we now assume that A+B=C, no matter what. The fears we have gathered around us keep us from continuing to explore and experience the diversity of our world and those who populate it. Those who speak to our beliefs help to reinforce those beliefs assuring us we are right. Those who speak to different beliefs about Life are viewed with suspicion. They can’t be right if my way is right. Sadly, we are unwilling to recognize that both can be right without either being wrong. One size doesn’t fit all and doesn’t have to for us all to live peacefully together.
Clear, open communication would help this, but we don’t even do that anymore. When someone who doesn’t share our beliefs speaks we look for reasons to disagree, to be insulted, to be angry instead of seeing this as an opportunity to learn, grow and come to a better understanding of those who share the planet with us. Most of all, we miss the opportunity to see that there is no reason to fear someone who sees Life from a different perspective. Their perspective doesn’t make our perspective wrong nor does our perspective make their perspective wrong.
As I was growing up, I was exposed to people of different nationalities, religions, and political viewpoints. I really never thought anything about it. When I meet someone, although it’s always nice to meet someone who is like-minded, I care more about who you are as a person – are you kind to children, animals, Nature and those less fortunate than yourself – than are you Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, etc. or Republican, Democrat, Independent, etc. I especially don’t care if you’re black, white, brown, red, yellow or any other color! Who are you?
Perhaps we’d stop assuming about others if we didn’t feel threatened by those who see things differently than we do. If we’d stop feeling threatened by those who have different perspectives, we’d stop getting offended so easily. We’d stop seeing insults where none were intended. We’d stop taking a defensive position in every conversation and situation because we would see we have nothing to defend. We just see things differently. That’s when we begin to see that we can agree to disagree and still live in peace and harmony with one another.
One last thing…in Wicca, we have one law: “And ye harm none, do as thou wilt.” If the difference in my beliefs have no intention of being harmful to you or your beliefs, isn’t that what really matters? Not assumed perceptions of threats to one’s safety, but the actual intent is what should really be important. The only way you will ever find out what that intent is, is to stop assuming and get to know the other person or group so that you can begin to understand their perspective and whether it really does pose any threat to you. In most cases, I think you’ll find that the other person is just another traveler on the road of Life trying to do the best they can…from their perspective.