Let’s talk about something that might offend people… the topic of being offended, discriminated against, criticized, etc. When you live in a free country, Christians aren’t getting their heads chopped off. Women aren’t being stoned. Gays aren’t being slaughtered (unless we’re talking ISIS attacks). If it does happen, it’s a crime and there are punishments. That’s REAL discrimination.
If someone takes away your life, liberty or property because you fall into a group (other than a criminal who deserves rights to be curtailed) then yes, you are discriminated against. In this post, I’m not talking about crimes. I’m talking about, for instance, someone said something mean to you, called you a name, or disagreed with your opinion or doesn’t want to do business with you because your hair is blue.
In a free country, if I want my right to think, believe, speak and feel what I want, then I have to allow you to think, believe, speak and feel what you want.
Thoughts, feelings, words and beliefs aren’t crimes. Actions that take away life, liberty or property are crimes.
Being offended is NOT the same as being discriminated against. Being offended is an inside job. It’s something you get to decide. The Amish weren’t offended when the guy came in and slaughtered their school children. They embraced his mother as if she were a victim too. That’s how much being offended is an inside job.
Most of us aren’t that forgiving. We all get offended. Being criticized for some aspect of your life, behavior, body, actions or beliefs is NOT a crime. It’s something we have to learn to work through on our own.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
What It’s Like Being a Minority
I spent 9 years in private fundamental Baptist schools. Yep, my brother and I were the only two “Mormons” in that school. I certainly never felt discriminated against. No one beat me up. I was first string on the basketball team, got to be in plays, was junior high valedictorian.
They may have promoted their points of doctrine that were different than mine. They had every right to do that, just as much as I had a right to believe what I wanted to believe.
I suppose I could have been offended, but I was not. Instead, I saw it for what it was – a bunch of people who believed differently than me on some points of doctrine. It’s a big world with lots of viewpoints. In fact, being among them helped me learn to love, respect and find common ground with people of all faiths.
Dealing with Bigotry
When I started a site for Christian women, I got some really nasty emails calling me a cult member and insisting I had no right to run a Christian web site. Yes, I took offense. My feelings were hurt. How dare someone accuse me of not loving my Savior? Were their comments some heinous crime? No, they had a right to say what they wanted to say, and I had a right to delete their emails without reading them.
Rather than cry “discrimination” I decided to make that site so Christ-centered no one would EVER accuse me of not being a Christian. What happened? I did that and the attacks stopped. Mysteriously, just stopped. Hmmm… Amazing what the power of Christ can do.
Dealing with Criticism
Being offended, for me, is a choice. I can choose to get my feelings hurt. Or I can look at the situation and ask, “What needs to be done here?” I started the first article directory and ran it for 14 years. During that time, I received lots of nasty emails, was cussed out by people griping about how the site was constructed or that they encountered a bug in the programming. I was even accused of single-handedly ruining the freelance writing industry.
I learned to look at each accusation or criticism and ask if it held merit. If it did, I used the feedback to improve the site or create a cool new service. If it didn’t, I wrote it off to their opinion and let it go.
Every day you and I are being “discriminated” for or against. You hire that consultant because she has a Pitbull like you do. You go to one hair dresser because she’s easy to talk to and avoid another because she bores you to tears.
I’m sure I’ve had people who didn’t want to work with me because of my religion, political views, the fact I got divorced in a family-focused religion, or that my southern accent grates on their nerves. Who cares? So what? I choose not to be offended – at least not for more than a couple minutes. 🙂
They aren’t my customers. They’re someone else’s. I go find the people who like me and what I have to say. To think I have to please everyone is rooted in insecurity and scarcity. There are plenty of people out there. Go find the ones who want to hire, be around, and love you. Let the rest roll on by.
That’s the beauty of a free country (and entrepreneurship). Let’s keep it that way!
Marnie Pehrson is a best-selling author and marketing and social media consultant specializing in digital content creation and Facebook Ad Management. Get a FREE 20-minute strategy session with Marnie here.