Ricky Gervais was a guest on Piers Morgan’s new show last week, and while I didn’t catch the whole interview, I did hear one clip that gripped me immediately. Gervais was explaining his motivation for making some of the jokes at the Golden Globe’s that people deemed inappropriate. He said,
“Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re in the right.”
When I heard this quote, I sat back and had a “whoa” moment.
I was taken aback by how incredibly right he was. I was pleased with how incredibly concise he was. I immediately began applying that statement to a million different scenarios. I was excited to use that quote in my own life!
I have offended people.
People have offended me.
That’s the way the world works. You can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time and it’s just not worth it to die trying. Now I don’t think that we can take this statement and use it as an excuse for bad behavior or for intentionally offending folks, but I think it’s important to remember that just because you offend someone doesn’t mean that you aren’t making a valid point. Or that just because you’re offended doesn’t mean that to which you took offense isn’t valid!
Can you tell that this concept still makes my head spin???
It’s just so incredibly simple! And TRUE!
In many ways, it’s made me reflect on things that have offended me. Take for instance, my recent post about the whole adoptive fundraising thing. It’s something that I find a little offensive. And in future posts about something offensive, it’s helpful to keep the reminder that it doesn’t mean I’m in the right in my back pocket. I don’t think that I used the post to say that adoptive fundraising is WRONG or that no one SHOULD do it, just that it’s not for me. But if it works for you, then by all means go for it! (Okay, maybe I didn’t emphasize that last part so much, but I’m working on this!) That doesn’t mean that I can’t (or won’t) ask questions about it, either to myself or to others. It doesn’t mean that it’s an off limits topic because someone was offended. So if that, or another topic, offended you – I apologize. But that’s the nature of the beast. And it’s why I used to have a category called “brutal honesty.” (And why I started that category here as well!) It might be a little brutal, but it’s honest.
The reverse side of that is that if you were offended by my blog post, doesn’t mean that YOU’RE right! I don’t say that pointedly at anyone, just in general – and the caps were not yelling, just emphasis. 🙂 Adoptive fundraising might be for you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everything I said was total rubbish either.
It’s kind of awesome that way….two opinions, two people offended by different things, and it’s OKAY!!
Now, in other ways, this quote has allowed me a freedom that I’d taken away from myself in a way. Look, I don’t WANT to offend people, but dang it, sometimes that’s what happens when you speak honestly! And I’m getting to the point where I’m tired of being nervous that I’m going to hurt someone’s feelings by speaking honestly about my experiences or opinions. I will absolutely continue to be respectful in posting about my opinions, but I think my confidence in that area has been dwindling significantly. And really? That doesn’t serve anyone. All it does is stop conversations, sometimes before they even begin.
I can tell that I’ve been feeling self-censored recently because I’m a little afraid to even post this topic. I don’t *think* that this topic if offensive, but I am a little nervous that the next time I’m offended someone will say, “BUT just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right!” (Or, in other words, “shut your pie hole, you asked for this”.) But I guess that’s a risk that I’m willing to take…I’m ready to be an adult about this concept, and I can only hope that others are too. 🙂
Okay, I think I’m going a little round and round in circles here and getting to be repetetive….so I’ll wrap this up with these final thoughts.
What does this all mean? Well, here’s what I take away from it:
1. If you’re offended, think about the “why” – AND still consider the statement that offended you.
2. If you offend someone, know that it doesn’t ALWAYS mean that you’re in the wrong.
3. If you offend someone, think about the “why” – maybe you ARE in the wrong.
4. Do NOT use this as a defense in purposefully offending others. As if to throw at them, “Hey, just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right, so there!” This is NOT a hall pass for bad behavior.
5. Someone being offended doesn’t need to be the END of a conversation. As in, “I’m offended, so stop talking about that.” Maybe it can be the beginning of a conversation.
6. Even when dealing with “offensive” topics, we can still be civil, respectful, and even productive!
Okay, that’s my piece for the day. Off I go, trying not to offend, but realizing it’s not the end of the world – or hopefully the conversation – if I do!