A ‘plague of offense’?

I’ve been seeing posts and articles claiming that “everyone is offended these days,” with the implication, at least, that everyone should just get over themselves. I agree to a point, but I also think that some of this is a passive-aggressive way of saying “stop pointing out that I’m a bigot.”

Here’s my take on the ‘plague of offense’ that we’re apparently suffering through. Subject to revision/refinement as I think this through…

I don’t expect to get through the day without being offended
(I’ll try not to whine about it beyond posting a snarky comment).

I don’t expect to get through the day without offending anyone, but I don’t go out of my way to do so. I think people who do are just showing that they’re jerks. If I cross the line from expressing an opinion to being deliberately offensive, call me out on it.

My “being offended” is different from pointing out discrimination and bullying behavior. If you think that you can silence me by telling me to quit being easily offended, you’re wrong.

There are problems that won’t go away by being ignored; if someone points out racism, sexism, or any other social issue that they think is a problem, don’t imagine you can shut them up by claiming that they just need to grow a thick skin.

Why don’t we teach our kids critical thinking skills?

I was reading this thread on Quora, and one of the comments included the observation that we teach American schoolchildren scientific facts (if even this), but rarely teach the scientific method, which would better enable them to figure things out for themselves.

I have thought about this off and on, and my conclusion is that there are many institutions, not just religious ones, that benefit from a population that doesn’t think critically about the world. I’m not saying there’s a coherent strategy to keep people uneducated (there’s no need to imagine a plot), but there’s no push to make it happen, so it doesn’t happen. Here are a few such organizations or institutions that I thought of off the top of my head:

  • Marketing: you would prefer it to be easy to convince people to buy your stuff
  • Politics: easier to get people to vote for you if you can use emotion and not logic
  • Military: people with good critical thinking skills might see that military action is usually not your best first option (probably a sub-category of politics)
  • Religion (of course)
  • Professional team sports (probably a sub-category of marketing)
  • Parents who want their kids to grow up believing in the same things they do

 

Leaping forward… into the quiet center

I haven’t fully worked out what I want to say here, but I wanted to get something typed out so that I don’t forget that I want to write about it.

I spend a lot of time online. Twitter, Google Plus, even Facebook. I see a lot of posts by people encouraging everyone to seize the day, start their small business, travel to exotic places, write their book… and I’m sure that’s all great advice. Really! I probably will try to write a book someday, and even though I’m not cut out to be an entrepreneur, if you are, then you probably owe it to yourself to give it a real shot.

But not all of us need to be world travelers, even if we can afford to, which (obviously) most people cannot. Some of us like going home at the end of the workday and leaving work at work… people who start their own businesses probably need to be thinking about their business pretty much all the time, or that’s what I hear. And so far, I haven’t thought of a single story or non-fiction book idea that’s just burning up in me, trying to get out to the world.

My resistance to the “rah rah rah” cheerleader crowd goes deeper than that, though. I think it has to do with a feeling that the go out and burn your mark on the world idea is hooked to an assumption that fast movement, outward-facing action, loud & forceful speaking, and shaking things up are the only ways to be “a success.” As if the only right mold is the one that produces extroverts. I think, too, that it’s aligned with the “growth = success” model that sees wilderness as “undeveloped” and not gorgeous and complete in itself, that sees efficiency and productivity as the only modes of action, and counts speed and size as sole measures of value.

To be honest, none of that appeals to me. I need to think that way at work a lot, because they pay me to get lots of work done. But when I come home, I want to be, not produce.

I seem to be attracted to things that are not quick. I am one year into training in Aikido, where (at my dojo at least) I am not likely to reach the first level of black belt for at least eight to ten years. In my free time I’m likely to be reading, knitting, or learning to weave.

I think there’s a place in the world for taking time, for not rushing to a goal, for learning the subtle aspects of something.