Offended, Yes; Apology? Don’t Bother

Where did people get the idea that they were born with the right to go through life un-offended? And with that question I proudly proclaim “Tonight I rant and rave!”

Here’s the thing. There are over 6 billion, BILLION I say!, people in this world. It is a statistical impossibility that all 6 billion plus will agree on everything. This should be self -evident. Any reasonable person should logically assume that others will feel differently and will be passionate about expressing at least one belief that is at odds with the beliefs of those who find themselves offended by others expressing their beliefs.

Now, having laid such groundwork I submit to you the fact that a demanded apology is worthless. While I feel that freedom of speech extends to the right to demand an apology, I wonder why people bother at all. You were offended. You fussed and whined and spouted the fact that you disagree and are hurt. In most cases the offender is some public figure and no one you even personally know. This person, in the interest of damage control and public image, issues a retraction of their expression and apologizes. Have you changed this person’s mind? I seriously doubt it. Have you put pressure on them and caused them, in the interest of the preservation of personal peace, to say sorry? Yes. Mission accomplished? Certainly not. Chances are this person still believes exactly the thing they stated that offended you.

What, in a situation wherein you find yourself offended, should you do? Get over it. Come to grips with the fact that other people will have their own views and, while those views may be morally reprehensible, they are the beliefs that the other person will hold whether you like it or not. And in all sensibility, do they not have the right to believe differently and express such a sentiment? After all, you’ve demonstrated the fact that you disagree which will likely offend the one who offended you. If you have the right to express your beliefs, why not they? Are you (keep in mind I’m using “you” metaphorically, referring to anyone to whom the described scenario applies) above the rules to which you seek to hold everyone else? I find such an idea quite offensive and if you feel otherwise I refuse to demand that you apologize.

There are some beliefs, such as racism, sexism and many an other ism, that should not be tolerated. On the flip side, there are other beliefs that shouldn’t be a catalyst for strife. I’ve seen people referred to as idiots because they each preferred a different automobile manufacturer. Really? You drive yours, they’ll drive theirs. What’s the problem? Has anyone ever been forced to drive a vehicle manufactured by an offensive manufacturer? Surely such a situation has occurred in the rich history of Humankind, however, does it really matter? How traumatic could such a situation possibly be? There are of course exceptions. Imagine a brute forcing one, at gunpoint, to drive an offensive car. Such would certainly be cause for a claim of undue stress. The rental company being unable to provide you an un-offensive brand, however, is no real cause for concern. Consider those who haven’t the luxury of being able to be offended by a certain car because they are too busy trying not to be killed by anarchists.

Perhaps the previously describe scenario is a bit extreme. Let it serve as a parable of sorts. Be thou not offended by that which matters not! Thus saith the reasonable individual. One real life anecdote and I’ll silence my keyboard for now. I worked in a place once where a co-worker was unable to eat his lunch indoors. A different co-worker found the smell of his lunch, which was tuna, offensive. This fish favoring fellow couldn’t enjoy his lunch inside. He had to eat outside, facing many a threat. He could’ve been rained on, hailed on, tornadoed or accosted by hungry pigeons, depending on the day. This man had to endure the threat of undue danger due to one who was offended by a product of nature. Nature! The one thing we must all accept due to the lack of any other choice. This man was offended by the lack of regard he was accorded. Despite this, he faithfully stepped outside, day after day, to partake in an uncomfortable and dangerous afternoon repast. How, I ask you, is this right? By way of answer I say simply, it isn’t. But he never complained because he understood that his expression, although perfectly within his rights, was pointless. Wah wah humanity has won and such should not be so.

I bid you adieu and a don’t.

Adieu…consider that others may be just as offended by your taking offense as you are at the thing that offended you.

A don’t…demand apologies. In such ways you only demean yourself.

On Time Travel, Murder and Suicide; A Bemusement

I bid you welcome. Consider with me, if you please, the following hypothetical scenario.

Let us imagine, and it likely isn’t much of a stretch, that you have a deep dark secret. It could be any of a multitude of things. A vice. A lie. A recurring unsavory activity or even a one time event like a murder or killing a pet by accidentally running it over with a lawn mower. You may pick for yourself. Whatever it is, it is very personal and if another human ever learned of it you’d be humiliated and ashamed. Perhaps you’ve hidden it so well from others that you’ve forgotten it yourself or it lurks in a cobwebbed corner of your psyche that you rarely visit.

Now we imagine that, wonder of wonders, time travel has been perfected and one day you are visited by future you. You know what future you knows and you know that he/she (depending) knows that you know that he/she (depending) knows. The question I put forth is this; does this constitute an awkward moment? An independent poll shows that one out of one of my co-workers feels it wouldn’t be awkward at all.

I think I disagree. Future me is a separate entity. He knows more than I know and has had more life experience. Perhaps he has moved on from whatever it is that shames me. I already judge myself rather harshly. How much more would an older and wiser me judge the current me? Would I lecture myself? Perhaps this is pointless because future me, assuming he’s moved on, knows that I will move on, the knowledge of which renders a lecture quite moot. Maybe he thinks he can help me move past it sooner than he did so he lectures me anyway. Or maybe this visit from the future is the very first in my timeline and therefore future me doesn’t yet know that the lecture is moot.

How would I react to a lecture from myself? Would it be like wrestling with something inside my own head with the only difference being that the voice of my conscience is now coming from outside of me? Would I heed my own advice or would I think that I am smarter than me? These questions drive me crazy.

Imagine that whatever is being hidden will soon cause disastrous
consequences and future me chose this exact moment to visit in order to avoid much pain and strife. Is this a smart choice for future me to make? How does he know that altering his past and my present won’t cause even more dire circumstances? Or maybe this isn’t his first trip back to my present. Maybe he’s seen what happens both ways and in his present he notices that something isn’t right and this tips him off to the fact that I haven’t followed his advice and he’s come to make another attempt.

What if he’s suicidal and he’s experienced so much pain between his then and my to be that he’s decided that it would be better to go back in time and off himself/myself before we have to go through all that. Would I defend myself from myself? And if so, how would I do it. What if I killed him? Would I, in his past, disappear? Or would I simply know how and sort of when I die in the future? I could judge by my future appearance my approximate age at the time I decided to come kill myself. Would I be able to kill him and then decide not to kill my past self when my present self gets to that point in the future?

If he killed me, he’d have to die also, but if I killed him would I be a murderer? Would it still be a suicide if I killed myself and lived to tell of it? Would I have a guilty conscience? And which of my selves would possess my soul? Could he continue to go back to different points in our timeline killing ourselves and populating the afterlife with many iterations of us/me? Or would all of our souls converge on one single death point as my finality? If that’s the case the only way he could end us would be to kill us in his own current timeline, however, that may not end us because current me could choose to kill myself at any time. I suppose that if I did that it would erase him. Is he living now or is he nonexistent until current me gets to his time point?

This is confusing. How do we know if we are at the very leading edge of our timelines or if we are simply past versions of the future we haven’t lived yet? Is future me already living? Am I ruining his future? If so, is he cross with me?

Now I have a headache. I’m going to bed. I bid you Adieu and a don’t

Adieu…make careful decisions. You could be causing your future self undue stress.

A don’t…walk on egg shells for fear of offending your future self. It seems highly unlikely he/she (depending) will ever come to visit.

The Un-Holiday

Halloween is a season in its own right, much different than the “Holiday Season” or “Christmas season” people speak so fondly of. I have nothing against the “happy holidays”. Thanksgiving and Christmas bring thoughts of warm homes and hot ovens. Tables laden with heaping dishes of steaming wonderflality surrounded by people who love each other or can at least pretend they do for an afternoon. Great things all, but what you see is what you get. Warmth, love and togetherness are all right out in the open and they are all that exist during such festivals, except perhaps within the confines of the most dysfunctional of homes. Independence day causes chests to swell with patriotic pride and bellies to swell with the scorched meat of butchered pigs.

But Halloween! Here, my friend, is a holiday that has no equal. It is celebrated in the dark, which sets it apart from all others if you also consider that it suggests a darkness of spirit as well as the darkness of night, and in these darknesses dark creatures conspire with one another to accost bearers of treats with thinly veiled, however generally friendly, demands. On the surface, it would seem that darkness is the theme, evil the palpable strain that lures otherwise good people to partake in devilry for a night.

Unlike the “happy holidays” however, Halloween has layers. For what lures the witches and the living dead from the blackness of the streets? Why, it is light! And what, after spotting the light and reaching its source, is the reward for leaving the darkness? Treats! Sweet morsels that extol the virtue of following the illuminated path. And what do the children express when a few candies are dropped into their bags or buckets or pillowcases? Excitement and gratitude! Smiles shine from painted faces! Masks contort as the masqueraders beneath utter their “Thank You”s and “Happy Halloween”s! Out of the seeming darkness pours happiness and good manners!

For me the mystery is the most amazing part. Halloween wears as its costume a shroud of darkness, yet as it pulls back its cowl, we receive in the place of the skeletal visage we expected, a warm and comforting smile. How bizarre! Even in attempting to celebrate a dark holiday, the inherent goodness of humankind shines through, inextinguishable even as we flirt with a temporary dimming of this internal light.
It is my hope that all your dark days reveal themselves to be miniature Halloweens.

And now I bid you Adieu and a don’t.

Adieu…forgive me this brief excursion into sappy territory.

A don’t…drive the darkness completely from your life. It serves to remind us of the sweetness of the light.

Buttons and Tubs: Everyday Items or Philosophical Conundrums?

I strive, on occasion, to assign deep philosophical meaning to rather mundane or pointless analogies. It’s a challenge of sorts. Am I able to look at a given farce and find that it may, in some small way, be transformed or infused with meaning, however menial whatever meaning may be found might be? Case in point, I recently became aware that buttons spelled backward is snottub. This is utterly meaningless philosophically. Literally, it has a certain humorous aspect. A tub full of snot. Or perhaps a tub made of snot. Ha ha! Yes. So. This is insufficient. I came up with nothing. Who could philosophize about that? Perhaps Plato? Socrates? Sadly, no. These men are long dead. This realization caused my spirit to collapse under the pressure I’d placed upon it.

For many long hours my spirit and I pondered our quandary, he dejectedly, I disinterestedly, until finally we realized that by removing the S, perhaps a breakthrough could be made. Button backward is nottub. Or not tub. This could be seen philosophically because it works on two levels. Button backward is both not tub phonetically and it is literally not tub. Buttons and tubs are fairly opposite but there are similarities. Both items work to hold something back. In the case of tubs it is most generally liquid. Buttons usually work together to enclose seams that enshroud flesh thereby holding back immodesty. Both have means of disengagement that dispel whatever substance is caught within their confines. And yet they are nothing alike. When wishing for a bath, one would not logically go for a button. Neither would one reach for a tub when wishing to conceal one’s flesh or create a barrier against the cold. Although, the argument could be made that a tub could be used as a barrier against the cold in a pinch, but such an arrangement would be most uncomfortable and inconceivably inefficient.

These musings also appear meaningless until you apply the idea that the tub is good and the button is evil. They war tirelessly one with another, the tub filling to cleanse the flesh, the button becoming stuck in its hole thereby refusing to bare the flesh for washing. And yet they both serve the purpose of making the flesh socially acceptable, working together to clean and conceal. In this wise they represent the idea that there is a bit of evil in good and a bit of good in evil. In deference to my father’s abhorrence of such an idea I concede that I speak merely of fleshly beings. In no way do I intend to imply that God has evil within him. Nor do I feel the Devil has a bit of good within him. I simply surmise that even when we, as flawed mortals, attempt to be “good” it is most generally not without at least a slight selfish slant. Conversely, when we set out to do evil, do we not at some point in plotting our misdeeds have a sudden, no matter how slight, twinge of self loathing as we come face to face with our moral reprobation?

Having succeeded in my goal of assigning deep meaning to the most meaningless analogy I happened to conjure I shall gleefully bid you Adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…remember that button backward is not tub the next time you do a good deed.

A don’t…forget the lesson of the button and the tub upon your next foray into the darkest recesses of your psyche.

Highly Fragranced Philosophy

I’m incensed. Or at least, I was. I’m over it now, but the cause of my initial incensement was the term “incensed” itself. People have told me the ideas I have are rather bizarre. Being myself, I’m unaware to what extent that supposition is accurate. I suppose it would vary person to person. I’ll explain why the term incensed incensed me and you may judge for yourself the severity of my bizarrity. If you even care to bother to do so.

I was lying in bed the other night, thinking. Earlier we had burned some incense in the living room. I postulate that this is the reason it came readily to mind as I was drifting in the haze between wakefulness and slumber. It occurred to me that incense is a word that, in addition to referring to the fragranced sticks I had recently burned, could be modified to end with the letter “d” and thereby refer to being angry. This thought incensed me for two reasons. First, that the English language would suffer a word to mean “good smelling stuff” and “extremely angry”. These are two quite opposite things and I picture a very drunk Mr. Webster sitting at his desk. Fresh track marks on the insides of his elbows glow in the firelight as he takes his quill in hand. Spread before him on the blonde oak desktop is a bit of parchment, pristine but for the capital I heading the top of the page. Anticipatory sweat beads on his forehead as he thinks of the wild night of dictionary writing ahead of him. His stomach flutters as the quill approaches the page and he struggles through the fog of alcohol and drugs to remember where he left off. Oh, yeah! He writes the word Incense: and then he scratches out the definition; a bit of wood you burn that smells good. The intoxicants coursing through his system incense him. That’s it? NO! Nah, that isn’t enough. It needs…well…I mean, its just a noun. Maybe it could be more perjorative. Why, it can’t even conjugate. I’ll fix this. After all, I am the only dictionary writer in the Colonies. It’s practically my duty to give this little noun a bit of attitude. I mean, most colonists don’t even know what incense is. It’s so…Eastern. And so, beneath Incense he writes Incensed: to be extremely mad. He sighs a contented sigh and moves on to whatever is after Incensed alphabetically. Second, I was incensed because in my state of being nearly asleep I became confused as to whether I was even correct in thinking that incensed meant angry. Was I merely inventing my own language like some modern day Webster drunk on lack of sleep?

I fell asleep worried and incensed. I awoke the next morning not thinking much of it. I made it through a full day of work without thinking of it at all. But, having a day off today and being possessed of the idea that I should make some bread, my hands became busy as my mind sat idle. Many thoughts crossed my brain but none stuck until my wife began making a deal of the fact that the incense sticks weren’t burning so well. As my floury hands kneaded the warm, supple dough, my brain began to hint at becoming incensed again. I had to know whether or not I was mistaken. I set my dough aside to rise and pulled up a dictionary on the old cell phone. Sure enough, incensed can mean extremely mad. I didn’t understand why. It really doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface. A sweet smelling burning stick and anger really don’t fit together in such a way as to share a root word. Or so I thought. As I continued to take my dough through the processes of rises and punch downs, divides and rests and preheats, I discovered some connections. To be honest, I’m a bit embarrassed to present these to anyone reading as the symbology seems so simple in retrospect, but realizing this is how I came to be completely over being incensed at the word incensed so here I outline the thought process that freed me from incensement.

On first hearing the word incensed, one might reasonably believe it means to have one’s person inundated with the smoke of burning incense to the point that one emits the odor for a time after the inundation has ended. Or it could logically be construed to mean that someone had been coated in an aromatic substance. The connection between these connotations and anger still eluded me. Until my wife opened the door to let the dog out and from the corner of my eye I glimpsed the end of a burning, sandalwood scented stick on the counter top glow bright red as a puff of wind blew a streamer of ash from the tiny coal. Anger burns, I thought, so there’s a connection, but, in my case, anyway, it burns bright and hot. It flares and quickly burns itself out consuming its oxygen and fuel supply in a blast of tense feelings and ill conceived actions. It is usually regretted later and it flares. It doesn’t smolder or smoke. That doesn’t quite resemble incense. I was washing my hands when it occurred to me that perhaps incense is a fitting analogy for anger after all. In my mind it goes like this: The anger of incensement is that deep seated anger that, for those of us possessed of a rational mind, is reserved for the most heinous or egregious assaults against our morality or sensibility. It smolders, hiding from view under a layer of ash and emitting thin streamers of smoke. Just enough to keep an ember alive. The sweet scent of the smoke is our attempt to mask our shame at holding on to anger; an action known to be detrimental to the mind as well as the body. The ash is the smile that hides the gritted teeth and seals the angry words inside until that puff of wind casts it off. The ember glows, the smoke disappears as the fire begins to more efficiently consume its fuel…

And with that I will bid you Adieu…and a don’t

Adieu…look into the intricacies and inconsistencies of the English language. A question I enjoy asking of people: If the teacher from his textbook taught, has not the preacher from the scriptures praught? Etymology is an interesting, if fairly useless field.

A don’t…misconstrue my portrayal of Mr. Webster as a drug riddled alcoholic to be representative of my grasp of history. I’m sure he was a noble man.