Not to be offensive, but...
Views 43 | Time to read: 4 minutes | Uploaded: 4 - 24 - 2019 | By: Jalin Coert
We’re a generation that is too easily offended. Now, before you read any further, I would like to draw your attention to the top of this page where there should be a box that contains something along the lines of “Opinions expressed in letters and other editorials, unless otherwise stated, are those of the writers and not of The Horizon staff or the college collectively” -- more or less. What it means is that what you are about to read, in this Opinion section (that’s what OpEd stands for), is solely my opinion. I am not trying to impose my point of view on anyone or demand that y’all jump on to this bandwagon, so take a breath. If you so happen to agree with me, great, awesome, send me an email and maybe we’ll be friends. If you so happen to disagree with me, you’re part of the problem.
I’m totally kidding. Actually, your differing opinion is welcomed and great and awesome and you should also send me a email (a polite one) and maybe we’ll be friends. My point is, you are completely entitled to your opinion just as the writers of the Horizon (like myself) are entitled to theirs. Now, I know we all know these things. However, I find it necessary to reiterate because I believe this generation has been missing the flip side of the “entitlement to opinion” coin -- that being, people shouldn’t be offended so easily. It makes my job as a Horizon writer very difficult.
I’m not saying that some things aren’t offensive, like when someone at a certain ice-cream establishment, let’s call it “McGonnel’s”, looks at my finals-week-waistline and leaves out that last scoop because they wanted to make someone in an already fragile state cry that day. They made a judgment and completed an action that they knew would be hurtful.
However, when someone does, says, or writes something from a place of good intention, and it hurts someone they never wanted to harm, that is a moment to gently correct; that’s a moment to address in an approachable conversation. Those are the moments when we need to put down the picket signs and banners, cease the lengthy rant on social media, and engage in a healthy, calm, constructive conversations that allow room for growth on both sides.
It’s a tricky world to navigate at the moment. On one hand, it’s phenomenal that we’re re-evaluating words, phrases, and ideas and thinking, “hey, that’s actually not kind, or inclusive, and someone is probably deeply hurt by that.” Go us! We’re considering others and speaking up for ourselves. On the other hand, it’s become increasingly difficult to walk the fine line between establishing diversity of opinion while not offending too many people.
I’m not saying that we should all go around yelling our opinion in whatever way we want, to whomever we want. I’m also not condoning anyone to say inflammatory or degrading remarks or use “that’s just my opinion that I’m entitled to” as an excuse. Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but not everyone’s opinion is valid. Sorry, but we don’t all deserve a participation trophy. Trophies are for people who develop informed opinions and express them in kind and educated ways while maintaining an open mind, even if their opinion is different from ours. It’s our job to respect those people’s opinions. Whether we agree or not, our job is to always take the higher road in conversation and promote diversity in every aspect of life, including our opinions, provided that diversity is rooted in love and kindness.
Today, as a writer for the Horizon, it’s become extremely difficult to find topics I’m passionate about. That’s because I know I will probably, and accidentally, end up saying something politically incorrect or offend someone, even when I’m trying my very best to avoid either things. I’m human. I’m learning. We all are. Let’s show some grace, diversity in thought and interest, and allow room for different opinions. If someone is offensive, we need to question motive, in a conversation, rather than immediately going up in arms about it. We also need to grasp the idea that different opinions that not everyone agrees with are actually a good thing. It challenges us as a college and helps us grow in a rich, dynamic, gracious environment. So, as the year comes to an end Westmont, let’s be less easily offended. Let’s be better.