And then find myself abandoning one line or approach after another because it might offend someone. Most writers–at least most of the writers I respect—don’t do that. They write unapologetically, without fear of stepping on toes.
I avoid conflict, and I avoid it in a way that’s probably not entirely healthy. Not just in my writing life, but in most every corner. Somehow over the years, I’ve developed this stifling fear of upsetting others to the point where I’ll carefully rearrange and rephrase and stay quiet in order to avoid making waves.
These days, the offended have so many platforms for spouting their outrage while we, the meek, are constantly searching for ways around potential conflicts. Sometimes, though, we the meek are also searching for crockpot bean recipes. Once in a great while, when the planets align just right, we find both in the same place.
Considering the part beans can play in Things Some Find Offensive, it shouldn’t have come as a total surprise for there to be a discussion about being offended intermingling with beans, yet in this instance, one had nothing to do with the other.
The discussion I’m referring to was on a website called Christy Jordan’s Southern Plate. Her discourse about being offended (that led into the bean recipe) was a little like the opening credits that run before a TV show. She was giving readers a taste of who she is prior to getting to why they were there (the beans).
Her website is a goldmine of recipes and conversation. As I read her piece about the easily offended, I found myself copying several of Christy’s adages for my ever-growing collection.
Among her rules for not being offended:
“Don’t take a paper cut and turn it into a sword wound.”
“When you assume the best in someone and they disappoint you, it is a reflection on who THEY are. When you assume the worst of someone, regardless of how they behave, it is a reflection on who YOU are.”
“Folks who complain about always having their toes stepped on need to look at how far out they’re sticking their feet.”
She shared one of her aunt’s favorite sayings, one that originated from Dolly Party, “Get down off the cross, honey. Somebody needs the wood.”
Which is a quote I probably wouldn’t have previously shared for fear of offending, but it’s a new leaf, people. I’m turning it over.
I know a woman who seems to exist in a constant state of outrage. The people who drive in front of her, who pass her, who park next to her—they’re unfailingly inept. Most every waitress, cashier, teller and teacher is incompetent. Politicians send her into a tizzy and parents are loathsome, as most every child she encounters is unfit for public presentation.
If there was a prize for Most Offended, she’d have a case full of trophies. But she’s also one of the unhappiest people I know, and one of the loneliest.
I know another woman, Diane, who lets it all roll off her back. She looks at least a decade younger than her age. Has a bounty of friends.
“What’s the point of being upset all day long? Does that change anything or make you feel better?” wrote Diane. “Allowing someone else’s actions or opinions to affect you is giving them your power.”
And adjusting every word out of your mouth, or from your fingertips, so that it doesn’t offend gives up your power as well.