Purveyor. Not of goods, but of good ideas

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

On Being Offended

It's commonly accepted in politically correct circles that the worst state a person can find himself in is to be offended.

The words "I'm offended" seem to have acquired a power beyond all reason, to the point where legislative action is often invoked to prevent it from ever happening to anyone.

That's just extreme and silly. Let's lighten up, eh? It's just too easy to be offended by someone who spits or litters in broad daylight, draws a cartoon, uses racial epithets, or chews with his mouth open. It's seldom something they're doing to us; it's much more indicative of what's going on inside them, and has little to do with us.

A friend of mine found herself highly offended by a dog owner who lives in her neighborhood. This guy habitually and deliberately (my friend surmisses) cleans up precisely half of his pooch's poo. Oh, he puts on a good show of it, but is careful to leave a good sample behind for others to easily see, smell, and step in. Ah, city life...

"Do you know why he does that?" I asked her.

"No. Why do you think?" she responded.

I leaned in and whispered to her, "Because it's all he's got."

That perked her up.

There is, however, one word commonly used to describe each of us that does offend me. It's consumer.

Now that's offensive.

Huh? you ask. Think of it this way: Form a picture in your mind of what you would reduce a person to if you were to refer to him or her as a consumer.

For me, there's really only one image that comes to mind, in two variations:

A giant, dumb, ugly mouth, something that exists only to use, to take, to devour everything in its path. It has no other purpose, no other meaning but to acquire and destroy for its own purposes, to satisfy its own deep appetites.

The second variation begins with the mouth and ends with an anus. There's a colon in between, of course, but that's about it.

Is that all we are?

Why do we put up with it?

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