Being Offended – Fear of Differences
I came across an interesting, yet troubling article the talks about a growing intolerance in the modern western world. The article is called Cultivating a Culture of Offense, from which I have borrowed the image to the left. The author talks about humans becoming less tolerant and more hypersensitive, often opposing whatever it is that offends them with too much energy that doesn’t allow for taking a moment to reflect on whether or not one even needs to take offense.
“Hypersensitive people have been around likely as long as people have been around, but their numbers seems to have increased almost exponentially. Hypersensitive people get offended easily because they see life as having a certain set of rules and they find it infuriating when someone or some group doesn’t seem to be going by those rules. They play by the rules and think others should do the same.”
The world is seen as black and white – us versus them – the Chosen People versus the Heathens – good versus evil. Whatever ideologies, theologies, philosophies (the list seems endless) that separate and divide humanity creates a culture of conflict that can be healthy in providing a tension as well as contrasts that allow us to rethink who we are given opposing ideas and ways of being. However, when there is retrenchment, a building of barricades and a demand that opposing others recant their opposing views and adopt the correct ideas and ways of being, something in the shadows is activated, a dark and negative face.
“Discussing things related to sexuality, relationships, racism, religion, politics – and yes, simple nudity are all but guaranteed to offend someone. Disagreeing with someone is simply part of life. There is nothing wrong with people not agreeing with the concept of open nudity. But telling other people what they can and cannot do just because their worldview doesn’t square with yours goes too far.”
I know I have been taught in various situations, by various well-meaning individuals and groups to avoid talking about politics and religion because they tend to activate complexes which makes discussion turn into argument. As for sexuality, that is a taboo topic. To bring it up does no more than to confirm that one has sex on the brain, that one is vulgar and lewd. Having a different worldview is tolerated as long as one keeps it to him or herself while not disturbing the worldviews of others. Self comes in last place.
” A part of the problem it seems is the era of political correctness we live in. Political correctness teaches people should feel offended by the words and actions of others that they don’t agree with. Political correctness imbues people with the belief they are a victim of something and that should do something about it, hold someone accountable. Political correctness has gotten so far out of control in this country that anybody can be offended by anything at anytime. But who gets to decide what is offensive anyway? Each individual that’s who – people take offense because they choose to be offended.”
Personally, I don’t think that the author’s simplistic belief that all is within the realm of choice, the domain of the ego, is what is really happening here. Whenever there is an affect that rises – anger, being offended, irrational fear, taboo – the faces of the personal and collective unconscious are being seen as complexes, personal and collective, have been activated.
Yes, the modern western world is becoming less tolerant, more politically correct and angrier at everybody and everything that dares to contradict. The number of people who deny that human behaviour impacts upon environment and weather simply discount science, or as in the case of our Canadian Prime Minister, silence the scientists, burn their books, and distance the researchers from their needed texts. Aid to third world countries becomes judged on issues of control – abandon abortion and family planning and the Canadian government will consider with more favour, your country’s needs.
Control – it’s all about control whether it be at the individual level, the group level, or at the level of the larger society. When one needs to react to limit others, to control others, then there is a serious issue with the self and/or collective that so desperately wants to shut down and eliminate the differences that appear to divide us as humans.