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Have you ever been criticized or accused of being offensive? I most certainly have and more than once.
Causing offence is rarely a desirable goal although you will run into people who seem to delight in offending others, somehow getting a uniquely perverse thrill or some strange sense of superiority out of seeing people upset or angry.
No doubt, life provides many opportunities for offence to occur, but is “offence” always the result of bad motives on the part of the “offender”? Of course not.
There is a good reason we most often refer to offence as having been taken. This is because “offence” is usually “appropriated” “by the offended” rather than purposefully delivered by the offender. So, it is the offended person that is usually the culprit, not the offender.
“How can you say that?” you might ask; without an offender there can be no offence. It is not usually the offender who offends, as much as the message the “offender” is delivering. But before we look into the question of offence, we need to describe the root cause of offence, which is one’s perception of truth.
Truth is a difficult term to define today. Perhaps it was always that way, but of late, it is so embroiled in so many variations of different versions of so many beliefs founded on a plurality of opinions of things defined in multiple ways as to be without meaning at all.
Huh? Are you confused? That was meant to be confusing to demonstrate the oldest trick in the world, that of distorting the truth to keep us from discovering it. The old adage of “if you cannot dazzle with brilliance, baffle with many meaningless words” comes to mind!
Truth does not have multiple meanings and applications as so often described. It is not a plural term. In fact, it doesn’t even sound right when expressed as such, yet the wisdom of this age insists there is a plurality of truths and that they are all true!
Now, think about this for a moment. What if one person believes something to be wrong and another believes it to be right? Can both “truths” be true? Impossible. Can both be untrue? Yes, of course. Actually, the best evidence for the singularity of truth is that a plurality of untruths is often used to distract and distance us from it.
Truth is not invented by people or democratically determined, even if there exists differences of opinion. If everyone defined their own truth, could we ever come to consensus and, if we did, would it, in fact, represent… the truth?
Truth just is. It has to be established by an objective “something” outside of our finite ability to create it. Our consensus on what it is should therefore not be based on what we invent but on what we discover.
My own life took on a completely new meaning and direction many years ago, when at a young age I asked that eternal question, “what is truth?” I determined then and there to find out and that quest continues to demand my greatest attention to this day. It led me to God, who then directed me to discover the way, the truth and the subsequent life that I should lead.
It has also provided me with much grief as I watch truth being rejected.
I cannot say that I have it all figured out, for that would most certainly not be the truth, but I do press on, desiring to know the truth rather than to seek to be right, which leads us back to the original question of offence.
Offence always involves truth, either by its presence or in its absence.
In fact, Jesus declared that the message He conveyed would be found to be offensive, yet it represented or more appropriately, was the truth.
One only has to watch the daily news to see rather frequent occurrences of this, now a days. Seems like everyone is offended everyday by everything. Actually, that cannot be the case, but it is safe to say that a lot of people seem to be offended at a lot of things that are, in fact, true.
On the other hand, if someone makes an accusation against another person, the offence is likely due to the lack of evidence to support the claim, or, if you will, the offence is taken because of the absence of substantive truth.
The knowledge of the truth seems to come with a desire to share the pearl, so to speak, with others. This is usually done sincerely, but not necessarily received with gratitude. Sharing with someone who is sincerely interested in knowing the truth usually results in pleasant, intelligent conversation.
If unfortunate enough to be exposing the reality of a bad situation, like questioning the purpose behind actions or to warn others of the impending danger of misinformation, misdirection, misleadings, misrepresentations, misappropriations or other methods of manipulation to cause others to believe things that just ain’t so, one can expect to find themselves misunderstood and/or misjudged, often in an avalanche of criticism.
I guess that is the price one must be prepared to pay for the privilege of telling the truth in a world that is just not interested in entertaining it, but the alternative is to tell lies and I just don’t want to do that.
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