This past weekend I went with my friend Raquel to see a production of Frankenstein. In this one the story is told more from the point of view of the creation. It was outstanding. (Not just because the creation was played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Victor Frankenstein by Jonny Lee Miller but that sure didn't hurt) As I was watching one really moving scene I was riveted by what was going on and then I thought..."oh that's so going in a blog."
Basically the scene boils down to the creation asking Victor why? Why did he make him? Why did he do it? Why? Did he ever even consider what it would mean, not to Victor, but to what he created? And he hadn't. He had done what he did to prove that he could. To show that he was right. That he was brilliant. That he was in control. And he never once gave thought to what it actually was that he was doing. Creating a living being that would have its own feelings. Its own struggles. Its own life. He never thought about it.
I had written down something my friend Marcy had posted on Facebook earlier in the week. I knew I would go back to it. She had posted a status asking if anyone besides her had ever gone back and read something they had written and realized how awful it sounded. Just rude or mean or dismissive. And then she wrote, "The thing is, I was usually thinking of myself, not going so far as to be thinking of someone else to want to offend them. Hence, I can go around offending people without even meaning to."
That to me speaks to such a great truth. How many times in our daily lives are we rude and dismissive only because we are not even considering the person we are interacting with? Not just that you aren't considering their feelings or that you disagree with them but not thinking about them at all. Just projecting your own feelings on them like a blank canvas. You weren't even considering them enough to be rude on purpose.
I've written before that I have a real distaste for people who try to use "I'm not PC" as an excuse for being an asshole and I think that fits here. When you are saying "I don't care if you are offended" usually you are saying, "I'm not really thinking about you at all." And this dovetails right in to that. You are saying what you want because you want to. Never considering the person in front of you that you could very well be talking about.
One of the things I've been working on over the past few years is to remember that just because someone disagrees with me doesn't mean they are wrong. It just means they disagree. And just because I disagree with them doesn't mean I should go tramping in on their conversation and shit all over them. Now sometimes they are wrong. But I need to be really sure I am considering that they are wrong. That there is a person there that I am conversing with. Not just a point that I need to make. Not just an opinion I feel needs expressed, but that there is a person on the other end of this conversation and how am I treating them at this moment?
Am I considering them enough to even offend them on purpose?
Which seems sort of odd when I put it that way. But sometimes I really do want to offend you. I want to disturb you. I want you to be rocked to your core by what it is that I am saying to you. Because I want you to think. And maybe change your mind. Because I'm hoping that if you are offended enough you stop to think about why it's offensive to you. Are you offended because you think I implied you are a bigot? Then look at what you said, was it bigoted? I know that the times I've actually changed, shifted my perception, is because I've been bothered by something. By what something I said or did said about me. And then not liked it enough to change.
But I promise to really try and think about why. Why am I saying this? Why am I doing this? Am I thinking about you at all? Am I concerned at all with you? I promise to ask myself those questions.
And then offend you on purpose.