You’re Offended? So What!

offendedI despise the word “offended.”  It is not a word I use to describe myself except in the ironic sense – i.e. That completely offends my sensibilities. <wink wink nudge nudge> – because I abhor its underlying implication.

It is designed to shut down dialog, to shut down communication, and that is never good.  Never.

youre_offended_tee_shirt-r72d6cc91b35c43af872d2984d44d749b_804gs_512Today’s political climate is consumed with shutting down dialog.  We are inundated on a nearly daily basis with stories of some segment of the population that has been offended by the actions or views by some other segment of the population.  At the core, these claims are designed to terminate the actions or speech of the “offending” group.  It is almost always bogus indignation, and even if it is legitimate, what difference does it make?  The last I checked, the Constitution was still the law of our land, and every individual has the right to hold views and make statements that may offend others.

Get used to it.

freedomFreedom comes with risks.

I had a conversation with a friend about this very issue recently, in a much more personal context.  It doesn’t change one iota of what I have said.  The intention is exactly the same…you have offended me with your <insert issue here>, and I want you to stop doing it.  There is no opening for dialog or discussion.  There is no opening for a mutually respectful conversation.  There is only an opening for listening to the reasons why you offended, and the reason why you should stop saying or doing that which offended.

It can be (and often is) enough simply that you offended.  Why is immaterial, you offended and you must stop offending.  Even if the relationship is over and there is no avenue for reconciliation, the burden of responsibility is still on the offender to fix him/herself.

This is stupid, and useless, because it accomplishes nothing.

stephen fry

Indeed!

I want to accomplish something in my life, and I don’t want to…I will not…do it by silencing opposing views. Say what you will, it does not offend me.

Shock me?  Maybe.

Annoy me?  Possibly.

Anger me?  Probably more than once.

Embitter me?  On occasion.

Offend me?  Never.

Eventually I will develop a thick enough skin that even the most infuriating things will roll off.  Eventually I will overcome the bitterness and cynicism that roots in.  What I will not do is be victimized by someone else’s words.  And I will not attempt to silence them.  I may despise what you say, but I will defend your right to say it. That’s the bottom line.

There is a lesson that can be gleaned from Voltaire in this regard:

tallentyreThe men who had hated [the book], and had not particularly loved Helvétius, flocked round him now. Voltaire forgave him all injuries, intentional or unintentional. ‘What a fuss about an omelette!’ he had exclaimed when he heard of the burning. How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that! ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,’ was his attitude now.  —S. G. Tallentyrereferring to Voltaire. Often attributed to Voltaire.

Voltaire really had it right.  We should do no less.

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V is for Visits #AtoZChallenge

A to Z Letter VSince we have an open adoption, we have a contract with our birth mom and birth dad stipulating visitation and written communication for them.  Because they are not together, we have separate contracts.  She is entitled to up to three visits per year, and four written communications per year (including pictures).  He is entitled to one visit per year and four written communications per year (including pictures).  The written communication is required, and we are sending an update approximately every three months.  The visits are not required if the birth parent does not request them.

We have had one visit so far, and it went well.  Our birth mom, from the very beginning, was not sure she wanted to have any post-placement visits, but she did request one when he was about 3 months old.  We met, of all non-neutral places, at her mother’s home.  I was nervous about the visit, but everything went fine.  Her social worker was there (a minimum requirement for me), and we had a set time to arrive and leave so it would not be an open-ended visit.  Standard visits last 1-2 hours, so that is what we arranged.

past adoption experienceI am very glad we were able to have that visit, because not only was our birth mom present, but her mother and grandmother were there as well.  I wanted them all to be able to see our son, to see that he is happy and thriving, and most importantly that he is loved.  I was even more grateful the next month that we did this when we did, because we learned that our birth mom’s mother passed away unexpectedly.  She, in particular, had some big reservations about the adoption…at least, until she met us and learned what open adoption is.  Her concerns stemmed from the fact that she surrendered one of her own daughters (she has four), and was never given the option to know the adoptive parents or see that her daughter was ok.  She never stopped grieving about it, and once she understood what our post-placement relationship would be like with our birth mom, she was completely supportive and on board.

adoption is love circleI don’t know if we will have any more visits.  None have been requested so far, and our birth mom told us when we saw her four months ago that she probably wouldn’t want another visit.  You do have to take those comments with a grain of salt, because even though she has access, there is still a grieving process.  And even though she is still certain she did the right thing, she still needs the reassurance that he is ok.  He is more than ok…he is wonderful, and happy, and growing like a weed…all things I make sure are evident in the pictures we send her.

worthy of gods loveMy hope and prayer for her is that she is buoyed by our letters and pictures.  I hope that she doesn’t ever feel we want to prevent her from seeing him and knowing he is doing well.  I hope she requests a visit if she needs it, and doesn’t deny herself what is her contractual right, especially if it will calm her heart.  I hope that she sees God’s presence in all that we have been through together, in the clear connection that we have with our son, and in our continued affection for her and gratefulness to her.  Most of all, I hope she sees God’s incredible, empowering, and steadfast love.