Big Words

Pandemic, now there’s a big word for you.  I would surmise that many of us were unfamiliar with this word a few weeks ago.  However, in the context of countless articles with pandemic in the title, posts with pandemic in the subject line, and electronic commentary with pandemic used in a sentence or two, we all could probably guess that it means, a global epidemic (affecting all and every nation).

                “I like big ‘words,’ and I cannot lie

                You other brothers can’t deny….”

                That a well-rounded big word in your face

is a thing of beauty!

                I apologize to those of you with sensibilities that won’t allow you to appreciate my mocking-parody of a 1992 rap tune about big butts, that I mostly remember being delivered by the potty-mouthed Donkey, I believe, in a Shrek movie.  I just had to…. Song lyrics pop into my head randomly.  Maybe it has something to do with the rhyming of lyrics pasted onto a memorable melody that remains in my brain tissue only to leak out at sometimes odd moments.

I’ve been accused of using big words.  Okay.  So, you want little words, short words, small words, perhaps four-letter words?

I like big words and fancy words.  I’m the Dolly Parton of big words.  I like disused words and unusual words.  I just, flat out, love words.  I can’t imagine why I’m a reader and writer.

Thank you, Mom, for modeling for your children an appreciation for the written and spoken English language.  It was one of the joys of my own life to have taught my child to read.  The circle of life.

As to the accusation of my using too many big words, it came from a student evaluation of my teaching skills, a long time ago, from a lad or lass in an Introduction to Sociology course.  Then, students could say anything they wished in an evaluation of the course, and the Instructor was expected to take it on the chin, hopefully either improving their performance or dismissing it as a disgruntled kiddo who thought they deserved an A but earned a C.  As there was no recourse to a student evaluation back then, it was what it was, I responded definitively but silently.

My gut-reaction, rebuttal was a sarcastic, “Get a dictionary.”  The expanded version, in my head was, “This is college.  Expand your vocabulary, expand your world.”  Then, “come on, really!?”  Then, probably some purely reactionary and unimaginative four-letter word.

As an aside, listen up people, especially movie-makers and script-writers – they didn’t use the F-word in the middle ages even for the “sex-thing” (not until late 15th century) and certainly not for an exclamation of disdain (19th century).  Just sayin’.  One of my pet-peeves.

About that aforementioned student evaluation, which was penned many years ago; I’ve mellowed since.  So, now when people accuse me of using big words, I go into my head again, never really saying these things to people.  I go back in time yet again, and refer to the tactic I used with students in my Developmental Studies Reading Lab at a university I worked at in Kentucky.  It’s simple.

Look at the context of what you’re reading to determine a general gist of a big word’s meaning.  I do it with Romance Language foreign words all the time.  French, Italian, Spanish, and many English words are based on Latin.  From the English, many times I can suss out the meaning of a French, Italian, or Spanish word I’m confronted with.  Not being fluent in any of these foreign languages, I can get by with greetings and the niceties, this way.   Or, when I need to make a point and English just doesn’t do the sentiment justice, I study the context in which I want to use a foreign word and having heard or read the foreign word before plus a little help from Google Translate, voila.

                “With a yawn, and a gentle pandiculation of her sleepy limbs, she drifted off to dreamland.  Something I would know nothing about. Insomnia is more my style.”  Could the word pandiculation mean to stretch?  And, it’s a much more fun word than stretch, I think.

Now, back to the big word, pandemicCan we learn some related pan- words that might expand our vocabulary as well as our generosity toward “all” in this global time of trouble?  How about panorama?

Many years ago, I had a dream wherein God gave me an option.  “You choose,” He said, “the panorama or the single pane.”  And I was shown a huge, 360-degree view of “It’s a small world,” at Disney World.  This was one of my favorite destinations at the park, back in the day.  Everywhere I looked, the objects in view were white, soft, jewel-like, sparkly, feathery, shiny, innocent, and childlike.  It was a fantastical utopia.  The single-pane window, in contrast, was one of those divided panes.  It was crowded, confusing, confined, utilitarian, and wholly undesirable. Of course  I chose the panorama.  I wanted it all.

How about Pan-Christian?  Uniting all branches of this group of believers.

Pan-cultural or pan-traditional = spanning many cultural traditions.

So, here we are back to pandemicALL, ALL, ALL …. And, to combat it?  How about panacea“One for all, all for one” (The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas).  The goal is to work separately (socially distanced) but toward one outcome, benefiting all

I had an opportunity today to correspond with a customer in Hong Kong.  We agreed that “we’re all in this together.”  And, together, we’ve got this.

Casting First Stones

In my head and in anticipation of the publication of my first column in the Bedford Gazette, it was 3 a.m., when most people develop their best creations, right?  I was in that half-awake, half- asleep dreamlike state known officially as a hypnopompic state.  It seems that I am at my most creative during this state, and in the wee-hours of the morning.

This time, I went on the offensive about my recently public written work.  I’d been writing for decades but wiser men & women than me agree with the writer of Ecclesiastes, “there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the sun” (paraphrased).

A couple of years ago when deeply embroiled in the layout phase of my photo-essay book, I started to prepare myself for its inevitable criticism.  In fact, so much had I thought about this upcoming criticism, I put a little anticipatory reminder on my desk-computer monitor, “everything you write will offend someone, somewhere, sometime” – and I could have added, and they will lash out.  It’s just that kind of world.

I’m not only an introvert but I’m a highly sensitive person (HSP, in psychology jargon), so I have to prepare for such things as criticismPeopling takes preparation.  I’m not shy; I’m even gregarious at times.  I like people.  But, I’m most at ease with space, silence, ideas, nature, and being alone.  I have to “get ready to get ready to ‘do people.’”  “Getting ready to get ready” is my husband’s thing and as far as I know, he coined the phrase; no diagnosis, just observation.

Criticism is not easily brushed off by my tribe.  Thick skin is not something we’re born with.  We have to consciously fight to not overthink, analyze-to-death, and deconstruct every experience, outside stimulus, and word/gesture/feeling we get from people, just being in proximity to them.

God bless my husband; can you say Amen?  Don’t go too far in pitying him, he’s got stuff too.  News flash, everybody’s got stuff.

I’ll never forget reading about a female scientist from one of the inhumanly frigid Pole’s, who had to be “life-flighted” back to the States for emergency cancer treatments.  She said to the press, in essence, “everybody’s got something, mine happens to be cancer.”  How powerfully resonant is that, in a count your blessings, stop feeling sorry for yourself kinda way?

This brings me to my aforementioned offensive, or preemptive strike.  If you like the Bible as your basis for moral and lifestyle guidelines, here’s one of my favorites.  “He who is without sin (wrong-doing) cast the first stone.”  This is Jesus’ words (always expect a paraphrase from me) in John 8:7. What could be clearer in the vein of “judge not, lest ye be judged;” (Matthew 7:1 – I first heard and learned this scripture from the King James Version, thus, the ye); “who are we to judge?” Or, “who do you think you are?”

For my purposes in this particular musing, I’m mixing my metaphors between the actual, barbaric and hateful act of stoning a human being as capital punishment (often for adultery, as in the case of the woman Jesus defended).  It is/was intended to kill someone for their offense.  But in the context of this essay, I’m referring to sticks, stones, words, names, and aspersions.  In this sense, the act of casting stones, no different than in literal stoning, is all about tearing down rather than building up, a human being.

To stone someone requires a purposeful gathering up of collected ammunitiona pile of stones not aimed at building something, a structure for example, but stacked for the purpose of ripping apart a life, killing, if you will their reputation, self-confidence, peace, happiness, goals, dreams, etc. To stone someone requires intentionally taking time from living your own life to assault the life of another, whom you as an individual or as a participant in “group-think,” have deemed having done wrong.

Lest you think the childhood defense against hurt feelings – “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me,” is anything close to authentic or that “real” stoning does not include name-calling, fabrication, set-ups to suit your beliefs, politicizing, or defensive mechanisms, have I got a film for you!

My husband and I like the occasional foreign film.  You get used to subtitles.  Years ago, we watched the 2008 film, “The Stoning of Soraya M.”  Not before, nor since, has my soul been so impacted by a movie.  It’s not for sissies.  You will come away, I challenge you, devastated by the injustices of the world and I hope aspire to, with the best of your consciousness, never again endeavor to be the first to cast first stones.

Moderation or Overdoing It

Sometime along the line in my younger years, I heard the phrase, “Everything in Moderation.”  I wondered if it had originated with the Scripture attributed to the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 10:23, “All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial.”  But the Greek poet Hesiod and Roman dramatist Plautus said this in different forms way back before the first century.

I’ve got a sort of inherent intuition or knowing of health and nutrition.  My sister Dee has even more astute knowledge in this area, picked up informally through alert cultural observation and lots of reading.  I suppose we’ve picked up tidbits from popular media, our whole lives.  I took a graduate class in Maternal/Infant Nutrition years ago at the University of Kentucky.  That may have helped a little bit.

My point is, both Dee and I have had weight issues since childhood.  Both of our bodies really want to go big (and go home, where the heart is, if you must finish a couple of add-on adages).  I’ll take Dee off the hook now and say that I would much rather OVEReat than eat with moderation.

In fact, I once told an ER doctor, just having been diagnosed with Hyperventilation, of all things (associated with anxiety, cumulative stress, and a panic attack mimicking a heart attack), that I didn’t find it all that surprising that I would OVERbreathe in that I OVERdo lots of things.  Can you say OVERthink?

I was embarrassed having gone to the ER with what I thought was a dumb complaint after all, thinking I was dying young from a heart attack.  Also, I was mortified that I hadn’t shaved my legs in a couple of days.  That saint of an ER doctor said not to feel bad, he hadn’t shaved his legs in quite some time either.  Good man.

Then there’s moderation in politics – NOT.  There used to be moderates on both sides, if my memory serves.  But today one seems hard pressed to find a good, thoughtful, calm, intelligent moderate on either side.  Moderates seem to be the animals on the planet with the most reasoned common sense.  Are these guys hiding in the closet, afraid of the politically correct crazies who holler the loudest?

In this nation, it’s either cultural anorexia/bulimia or we’re headed to a collective over eaters anonymous gathering.  Why can’t we just sit down together to an old-fashioned family-style meal after the hard work of barn raising, and pass the veggies please.

I know how important it is for people to sometimes overdo something.  More than 15 years ago I lost 82 pounds the old-fashioned way, by obsessing over food and exercise.  I couldn’t have achieved that weight-loss had I not taken diet AND exercise to heights beyond any stretch of the definition of moderationMaybe one has to counter one extreme with its opposite extreme in order to achieve balanceOverdoing anything comes surely from an effort to compensate for something that is out of whack.  We’re trying to tune the instruments of our lives through overdoing itModeration comes after you’ve peaked and shrieked, so it seems.

The Greeks, after all, gave us democracy and they gave us the great thinker, Aristotle who said, “moderation in all things,” in 350-something BC and “observe due measure, moderation is best in all things,” was Hesiod in 700 BC.  I have to give it to Oscar Wilde though, who said, “Observe moderation in all things, including moderation.”

The Bible, says in Ecclesiastes, the personal essay of wise philosophical if not skeptical musings, “there is a time for everything under the sun.”  And, I’ll borrow a Simon & Garfunkel song lyric to end my own musings, “the times they are a changing.”  The times that are trending now are to cut and paste: cut moderation and paste overdoing it!

But a girl can hope.

Dignity & Decorum – Pat Scott & Polite Society

This piece was conceived in honor of Pat Scott’s humble and dignified life and is published with the deepest respect for Ralph and their family.

Pat Scott’s faith-filled death was awe-inspiring because of its dignity.  From her husband, Ralph’s account, Pat’s process was one of acceptance that “if this is my time, I’m ready.”  However, it was not resignation, giving up, or hopeless, but such a kinship with God that I would call it the epitome of “crossing over,” “passing through,” and “living life to its fullest.”  When I taught a Death & Dying course many years ago, Pat’s is what we called a “dignified death;” and I would call it the ultimate unification of the human with the divine.

I write this essay with a familiarity that I don’t really deserve.  I only knew Pat by name, “she was a Steele.”  But it is a matter of “country facts,” (the counterpart of the urban legend) that I know Ralph Scott and his family of origin.  I “know” him through that six degrees of separation way typical in the countryside, not unlike “turn left at the big oak tree next to the 25 mph sign on the dirt road up ahead,” or “my neighbor’s cousin graduated from high school with your sister.”  This is how I know Ralph: “you know the Scott’s, they lived on the ‘back road’ from Sunnyside to Cypher where our bus driver when the mood struck, took the route backwards so I saw where they lived because I got off the bus last instead of first.  I think Sandy was a year ahead of me and Ralph a few years ahead of her in school.”

Back to the future – I know Ralph now, as we are Facebook friends.  This is how I know of this most important and personal passage in the life of his family.

Beyond writing of Pat’s extraordinary faith, I am respectfully writing this because of her dignity.  Our culture could use some dignity and decorum.  I’m proudly a baby boomer, growing up in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  We have some experiences to recount at this age.  Far from knowing it all, we’ve lived a lot.

Back in our formative years, we honored privacy and we kept things like sex, money, politics, and death, to ourselves.  It wasn’t secret, it was private.  BIG DIFFERENCE here.  Private means choosing boundaries and comfortably staying within them.  Secret means hiding from the potential pain of disclosing something shameful.  Unless you deem me an artifact and un-hip, I also taught Human Sexuality many years ago, so I’m all about keeping sex private but not secret – it’s a matter of decorum.

Death was private too.  In fact, my best friend from junior high thought my dad was dead because any time she spent the night at our house he wasn’t there.  But she never “said” anything about it.  The fact is, my dad worked in construction and his jobs often took him out of town or out of state during the week and he was home only on weekends.  I never “said” anything either.  It was private.

Family members of school mates tragically died back in the day of our growing up and I only heard of it as a result of a reunion conversation of a friend of a friend.  Nothing was “said,” that I heard at the time.

Politics was off-topic in my home of origin.  Voting was a private endeavor.  My dad was loudly a member of one political party and my mom was a member of “the other party.”  So I grew up, fortunately, with an open mind.  I “let my dad” rant about political things with my mouth shut and my mind decided if not open, but respectful of his opinions, strongly held.  My mom just shook her head and believed what she believed.

We watch a lot of British television in our household, primarily dramas or crime/mysteries.  Mostly through this medium, all I have known about the British parliament is one person standing up, yelling at the crowd of lawmakers across the aisle, with a freight train roar of disapproval from the gallery.  I used to think this process somewhat barbaric and was proud of our American political decorum, by contrast.  Wow!  Have things changed?!

Relatively new to us baby boomers, is the nonstop and immediate nature of the “news” cycle.  Thanks to this and the redefinition of journalism, minus the objectivity, politics is no longer private, civil, or dignified.  Walter Cronkite, reporting the evening news on the black-and-white TV, our culture is not.  Now we have a 24-hour presentation of some snippet of fact enhanced for us by a sound-bite of analysis, explanation, contextualizing, and interpretation of current events.  It’s activist-journalism, meant to incite emotion and get a visceral reaction.  As long as the media darling cites their bias upfront, bias is okay in today’s journalism.

Today’s Word of the Day: soniferous (conveying or producing sound) reminded me of the proverbial sound-bite, or the boastful person who loves the sound of his/her own voice.  We have an acquaintance who tells everyone who will listen about his money, apparently millions of it.  Aside from the point that I believe money is a private thing, can you say decorum?

And then there’s the soniferous media-driven celebrity of otherwise ordinary people, blown way out of proportion to what’s authentic – I would have used the word real here, but that word has been so bastardized by “reality-TV” and “real housewives,” that it’s useless to describe authenticity.  These people are famous for being famous, not for displaying some great talent, intellect, or skill, but for entertaining the, supposedly bored with their own lives, masses, via a sex-tape gone rogue, a job as a drunken host/hostess of outlandish parties, or their extravagantly plasticized faces or bodies.  Can you say dignity?

We could all take a lesson from Pat Scott and live with dignity and behave with decorumTHANK YOU PAT for your generous gift and humble example to us all.  You were loved and will be remembered.

(Note: This piece was conceived in honor of Pat Scott’s humble & dignified life and is published with the deepest respect for Ralph & their family.)

Influencers: Who Have You Crowned with the Power to Influence You?

I had a “down” day recently and it stemmed not from any particular incident nor from a circumstance (although the claustrophobia of being iced indoors didn’t help), but from the INFLUENCE of information-sharing sources such as the local newspaper and social media.

However, in my wise old age of sixty-something I’ve learned that more often than not “down” days are fertile days from which to learn something.  More often than not, the next day has birthed some sort of fruit.

Influencers.  In the 21st century, these are persons with the power to influence many people through media.  These individuals are self-MADE, media-savvy youngsters (many of them) who through a commercial platform and endorsement, glean many thousands of followers through eWOM (electronic word of mouth, i.e. the Internet).  “Buy this product, copy me, and you too can be ‘beautiful,’ ‘successful,’ ‘wealthy,’ ‘happy,’ and anything else you want in life.”

I wonder – if the sample sentence in the first definition of Influencer in, really applies, with the rise in the celebrity of these relatively young media leaders: “The most powerful influencer of beliefs is direct experience.”

When I grew up in the 50s and 60s, my Influencers were my parents and extended family; my teachers & school; my church; and my friends – face-to-face school and neighborhood mates (NOT every person I’ve ever met, run across, or glanced at in passing).  I personally have never been enamored or FOLLOWED celebrities; thinking them actors and only actors, entertainers and only entertainers, sports figures and only sports figures, with personal lives that have no direct bearing on my life.

In becoming independent from our families of birth, in those days we were taught to think for ourselves.  How many parents said, “don’t follow the crowd.”  Or more “creatively,” “If your friend jumps off the cliff, are you going to jump off the cliff?”  Followed by a silent, but thought: “dumbass!”

When I worked on my master’s degree, critical thinking was a big thing in progressive education, and developing skills in same.  When I went on to teach college-level sociology, our in-service workshops more often than not focused on either developing critical thinking skills into curriculum and in our students; or maintaining multicultural sensitivity.

There is nothing scarier to the world than those of us lone rangers who don’t melt into the crowd because we think for ourselves. In 2015 I wrote in another publication:

“Historically, there were individuals who thought for themselves –  invented great new technologies or works of art; created new social systems; composed new music, poems or stories; stepped out from the crowd in business strategies; and they were considered unbalanced, weird, or supernatural, and, were therefore feared, dismissed as irrelevant, or even deemed criminal.  Those individuals stand out in history because there are so few of them.  We risk the comfort of belonging when we think for ourselves.”

I would like to Influence others to be influenced by direct personal experience again: be influenced by internal/self-motivation; soul, spirit, what-have-you; loved ones; work, and life experience.  Let’s let the celebrity-media-influencer-machine follow each other – DON’T JOIN IN, CROWNING THEM WITH THE POWER TO INFLUENCE YOU!

Holiday Homage to Mary the Mother of Jesus (from an emblematic 21st century human)

The following is excerpted (& slightly edited) from my out-of-print memoir, Hope Deferred.

I’ve never had heroes.  I’m not enamored with celebrities However, there’s Mary, the mother of Jesus.  I look up to her as a role model.  I’m not Catholic, so I don’t formally revere Mary, but I get why they do and I’m on the verge of doing so as well.  But, in the mean time I think the theological character that I know of as Mary, and I have some similarities, resulting in a feeling of kinship with her, triggering the thoughts which follow.

Although Mary was monumentally blessed, she was socially ostracized and an ordinary girl from humble originsHer blessing was for believing that what the Lord had said to her would be accomplished.  I have sometimes felt stupendously foolish for believing an outlandish promise from God.  Mary is clearly identified in Scripture as one who longed for fulfillment of ancient promises.  I wonder if she felt foolish for believing God while she waited.  I think she did at least momentarily.

I recall as a young adult that I felt somehow “charmed” or better put, “blessed” at having never had a broken bone or an illness beyond the usual growing pains of stomachaches, sore throats, colds, etc.  My family was intact, although barely at times.  I never lacked for anything, even though times were obviously hard, periodically.  I stayed emotionally even and balanced throughout my formative years.  I wasn’t intellectually challenged nor did I overly excel.  I felt an inherent blessing over my life, however.  I identify with Frank Schaeffer’s perspective on my childhood (Crazy for God, p. 38), “Given the range of human suffering, I had a golden childhood.”

An outcast, Mary was deprived of a suitable place to give birth to her son, who’s soon to become a celebrity.  I understand the dual status that Mary enjoyed.  That is something I’m not sure many folks comprehend.  One can be both blessed beyond measure and prominent in one sense, while at the same time remain an outside observer of the mainstream, not belonging anywhere.

From my perspective, Mary was a ponderer and a contemplative.  I get her.

Mary remained an ordinary woman who responded in faith to a unique calling, purpose, and portion, although later, she was elevated beyond ordinary humanity by people who followed her – venerating, idealizing, and revering her through pan-biblical tradition, which was out of proportion to her humble character and ordinary beginnings.

IF I WERE MARY – and, aren’t we all glad I wasn’t? {please take a moment to appreciate the happy sarcasm included}:

  1. I would have had a fit with Joseph for not planning ahead enough to reserve a room in the inn.  He should have known what tax time is like in Bethlehem?
  2. After all, here I am ready to have this baby any minute.  What was he thinking?  Joseph knows full well that I’m expecting the Son of God, no less, and he didn’t have the courtesy to prepare a decent place for me to labor and give birth.
  3. My ankles swelled appreciably with each mile I sat atop that beast.  What kind of man am I betrothed to?  I don’t think I want to go through with this thing.  It’s too hard, and I’m unappreciated.
  4. The people in this town, don’t they have any feelings for others?  How selfish can they get?  Every generation of people seems to get more self-centered than the last one.
  5. Can you imagine someone covering the front desk of an inn?  There’s no vacancy, and a man comes in and tells you his wife is in end-stage labor and needs a place to rest and give birth to her baby.  The desk clerk cannot conceive of, or won’t suggest, a single alternative but a stable!  Where does he plan to sleep, out back?  I hope he sleeps comfortably.
  6. How about those guests at the inn?  I think I’ll groan extra loud just for them.  We’ll see who gets any sleep tonight!  I must remember to pray for these people that God would make them more sensitive to the needs of others.
  7. What’s with these shepherd boys.  I just had a baby in a stable, and shepherd boys want to visit.
  8. I’m trying to get the hang of nursing my baby.  As soon as he goes to sleep, some jackass honks, or dumb goat bleats and wakes him up.
  9. I’m tired.  I’m dirty.  I look awful.  I want to go home, and an endless parade of shepherd boys and wise men (there’s an oxymoron for ya) come to visit.
  10. Of course, daddy’s over there, glowing like he had anything to do with it!
  11. Nobody has considered my needs, how I feel, what I might want.
  12. As the mother of a famous child, I have a creeping feeling this pattern might continue my whole life.  I think I’m depressed!



The Courage to Take No Offense

I’m GUILTY.  I have lacked the courage to take no offense.  Let me explain.

I admire my Facebook friends on the conservative right who post, share, and forward posts which will undoubtedly tweak the sensibilities of our Facebook friends on the liberal left.  But they stand up and do it anyway.

I simply don’t have the courage to push the like button or “worse,” forward or share those posts, many of which I totally agree with because they seem as close to the obvious truth as I see it. I’ve been the victim of demeaning challenges by a couple of my liberal Facebook friends when in the past I’ve shared posts with a conservative point of view.  I’ve backed off and I’m sort of ashamed of this.

First, I should make it clear that Facebook posts are mostly, if not entirely based on someone’s opinion.  Some opinions probably are based more on fact than other opinions, but just the same, they are opinions.  Opinions are personal points of view, beliefs based on grounds not sufficient to produce certainty.  Or, opinions, such as “I hate summer,” or to be fair to all, “I hate winter;” are based on personal experience and are completely subjective, but legitimate just the same.  In other words, opinions are not necessarily rationally or factually based; but some of them are.

The fact is, Facebook posts cause widespread anus-twitching and jaw-clenching across the land, especially when the post includes: “I agree with President Trump….”  This one makes people down-right pissy.

However,  I recently use the excuse that I don’t have to react to every post and I usually move on from such posts; a procedure that I comfortably use when one of my Facebook friends on the liberal left shares a post about which I disagree.  It’s pretty cowardly of me, as I’m protecting my own sensitivities toward offense.

Everybody, it seems, is offended these days.  In fact, being a writer, I mused this little ditty a few months ago: “It’s best to assume that everything one writes will offend someone, somewhere, sometime.”  We are an offense-oriented culture.  I’m sorry, but “snowflake,” really seems an apropos moniker for us; ALL of us who are instantly and powerfully offended at a difference of opinion.

After reading a post (Scott Thomas, August 14, 2019) with a conservative point of view, this morning forwarded by my sister-in-law, Marge, excerpts of which are here:

“…my ancestors came here from other countries…learned the language…worked…became citizens…and some served in the military!…  IMMIGRANTS…must adapt…I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture….We speak ENGLISH…Most Americans believe in God…If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our ‘Culture.’  We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why.  All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us… If you aren’t happy here, then LEAVE.  We didn’t force you to come here.  You asked to be here.  So accept the country that accepted you.”

I couldn’t help but think of Robert De Niro’s character in Ronan who, when asked if he had ever killed anyone, replied: “I hurt someone’s feelings once.”

This seems to be the cultural extreme to which we have turned, where murder is equated with offense or hurt feelings.  It’s become a criminal act to disagree with someone and publish it.  The thing is, you set yourself up, in my experience, to be emotionally and mentally abused by ANY and EVERY dissenter.  And, we’ve all seen the extremes of this kind of abuse.  This is the anonymous, internet-age after-all and  EVERYONE with an opinion, openly, loudly, and as nasty as they wanna be, criticizes your opinion.

So, what do we do with the smattering of Biblical Scriptures which counsel us to “take no offense?”  I believe I’ve been working on that character lesson for around five decades.  If anything, it’s become more of a challenge in the internet-age, through social media than it was when I was a “sensitive” teenager, trying to fit in while trying to take a stand for what’s “right.”

Let’s break it down: offense in the biblical context means “at fault.”  Basically, the precept is then, not to take an attitude or behave in a way (share an opinion) that puts you at fault in the character department.  So, if I have done nothing with the obvious intent of hurting another, I have no reason to take offense at the critical backlash of someone with a differing opinion.  I can move on in the knowledge that my intent was righteous.

Some wise advice then might be to “guard your heart.”  Keeping some people at a distance may go a long way in protecting your heart: casual acquaintances; some social media “friends” with whom you have no brick and mortar relationship; and other faux connections.  And, an important and vital tool in guarding your heart is “don’t take criticism from people you wouldn’t take advice from” – Kyle Freedman (Twitter, May 3, 2019).