So something has been bugging me for a while now.
I keep seeing these articles, blogs, opinion pieces, whatever, that all run a common theme – “Be mindful what you say or ask, lest you offend me.” They come in the guises of ’10 Questions I’m Sick of Hearing About My Twins’ or ‘Why You Shouldn’t Ask Me Why I Only Have One Child’ and ‘Stop Asking Me When I’m Going to Have a Child.” What they all basically mean is that YOU, as the person reading this, need to realise that nearly 100% of what you think of to say to, or ask another human being is bound to be found offensive by SOMEONE ON EARTH and therefore you SHOULD KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT.
Well, I call BULLSHIT. I refuse to stop communicating with people on the basis I may offend them unintentionally. I will continue to ask the questions I have in my mind, questions motivated by simple curiosity or care, and if I happen to offend you – well you can either get over it or stop talking to me [and blog about it]. Your loss, in my humble opinion.
What kind of world are we heading for? One where no-one talks? No-one asks any questions? Silence… punctuated by meaningless pleasantries? Not in my neighbourhood, let me tell you.
This is not to say that every single question or comment that enters my head will exit my mouth. I think plenty of things I’d never ever dream of verbalising because I know they could be offensive or hurtful or are plain unnecessary, and that will never change. And I hope you are the same. But plenty of times I just ask a question because frankly I’m curious. Like asking you if you plan to have more kids or is one enough? I’m not judging you either way – but I like you and I’d like to know you better and so I’m curious as to your thoughts on this big matter. Take it as a compliment – a way of me saying ‘I think you’re pretty great.’ Cause if I’m not asking you anything, I’m not getting to know you and thats because I secretly think you’re not my kind of person, sorry…[see what I did there? That is an example of consciously editing my thoughts. What I wanted to write was ‘because I secretly think you’re a douche and don’t want to waste my time getting information about you or your life.’]
Similarly, I will never take offence at a person’s questions to me if they are innocent in intent. Yes, I’ve had a lot of fertility issues but I won’t get offended if you ask if #2 was planned or if we tried for long for either kid. I might feel a bit sensitive if you said something like, “Oh, but you got a kid in the end, so its not like you really have anything to complain about, is it?” in a smarmy or unkind way, once you hear my story. But I don’t expect everyone to somehow intuit that getting pregnant was not easy for me and therefore feel personally insulted or offended if you unknowingly ask a question that hits a nerve.
We talk about how everyone needs to be more tolerant of others – of their different lifestyles, their different truths, etc. And I agree. The key to peaceful and healthy community is tolerance of differences. Its very PC right now to be tolerant.
Yet – and this is baffling to me – more and more people are spouting these ‘Don’t You Dare Talk To Me About Things’ opinions, which is the height of intolerance. I won’t TOLERATE your innocent curiosity. I won’t TOLERATE that you don’t know my whole story and therefore have no idea how that statement or question may hurt my feelings, yet choose to voice it anyway. I won’t TOLERATE that your view of the situation may be different to mine and that you dare to say it. So what do you want, people? You want us to be more tolerant towards others….or you don’t?
I want my daughter to grow up feeling confident asking questions to learn, to broaden her understanding of people and life, to get to know new people from all walks of life. Surrounding herself with people who can discern the innocent motivation behind the query or comment and forgive any offence it unintentionally causes.
I want her to always think before she speaks and never be intentionally unkind or rude. To forgive those who inadvertently offend her. To never stop answering questions from curious folk who are just trying to reach out too. I want her to communicate and get to know people in real life. Their ups and downs, highs and lows. Learn from their mistakes and share solutions of her own.
As a society, we need to put the brakes on this new fad of thinking we are so individually important and vital that no other person can dare risk offending us. We need to get over ourselves a bit, stop focusing on our own selves and start spending a bit more time and effort focusing on others around us. Less selfies, more selfless.
The world is heading for an ignorant, silent, afraid and so, so lonely place if we don’t.
PS feel free to comment below if I’ve offended you somehow – I won’t care, probably, but you might feel better. But wait – what if your comment offends me?? 😉