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Cam Marston on Choosing Not to Be Offended

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On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam Marston asks us to take no offense. Really. That's all we need to do. Just don't take it.

Years ago, my father-in-law hit a poor golf shot. It wasn’t what he had intended, but the ball went forward and ended up not far from the pin. He said to me, “Cam, that shot is called a son-in-law.” “Oh, really?” I said, “Why is that?” “It’s called a son-in-law,” he said, “because it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind but, it’ll do.”

I have laughed at that for ten years or more. He delivered it perfectly. I remember thinking “I could choose to be offended, but I’m going to decide to not be offended and, instead, laugh. It was a joke. It was at my expense. I know the man likes me and, dang it, it was funny.” That was the first time I realized I have the choice to be offended by things or not. Being offended or not is in my control and has always been in my control, and until that day, I didn’t realize that it was a decision. It was up to me, and if you’re the type of person who offends easily, realize this – you can choose to not be offended by things and, wow, how much nicer the world becomes when you make that decision.

My wife tells a similar story. Her realization came at a bible study when the leader said about something controversial, “I’m going to choose to not be offended by it.” My wife says she remembers thinking, “Wait a minute! You mean it’s my choice to be offended or not? I have control over this?” Later she told the bible study leader that one comment changed her life. Pretty cool stuff.

The communication apps on my phone are buzzing as my kids are back in school and parents and teachers and coaches and administrators are struggling to find their routines and communicate with everyone about what needs to be done and which parent’s turn it is to do this and that and all that. Lots of quick communications. Tons of messages. Lots of messages being repeated many times over for the ones who missed them the first time around. Lots of words flying through cyberspace without the benefit of context or the benefit of tone of voice or facial expressions to help us understand the messages which can easily be lost or completely misunderstood without those things.

And in the process, some folks might interpret something incorrectly and allow themselves to be offended. Because that’s what it is – they’re allowing themselves to be offended. I see it daily – we all see it daily. Offence is a big part of the news cycle. Offence thrives in social media. You’ll have the chance to be offended many times before this day is over. Do yourself and me and the rest of the world a favor: Choose to not be offended. Just let it go. When you feel it building up, just drop it. It’s awesome.

I'm Cam Marston, and I'm just trying to Keep It Real.

Cam Marston is the Keepin' It Real host for Alabama Public Radio.