Recently, I heard someone on the radio talking about being unoffendable. I hadn’t considered what it means to be unoffendable, but it gave me something to think about. Two incidents I was involved in recently made me think that becoming unoffendable was worth pursuing.
The first incident occurred while I was driving on the highway. I found myself in the fast lane, sandwiched between a driver who was contented to go the speed limit and one who wanted to go much faster–making this known to me by riding close to my bumper. We continued our little caravan as we passed a highway patrolman. Since we were going an appropriate speed, I was sure that the driver behind me was spared a ticket. He must not have seen it that way, because when I pulled over into the right lane, he felt the necessity to honk as he passed me. “Why are you honking at me?” I shouted, even knowing he couldn’t hear me. Indignation boiled up in me as I considered the unfairness of it all.
The second incident occurred in church of all places. At the beginning of mass, I got a tickle in my throat and I coughed. The person on my left apparently used that data to diagnose me with a cold. When it was time for the sign of peace, she refused to shake my hand. This would have been fine with me, but she must have felt driven to tell me why. That too was okay until she decided to tell me a second time in case I misunderstood her the first time. Now I was offended. Perhaps, neither of us should have gone to communion–certainly I shouldn’t have. But, alas, we both did. When I came back to the pew, I moved down as far away from her as possible–a childish act for sure.
In light of what we see on the news, we all need to work on becoming unoffendable. I recently saw a woman who was on her way to prison because a road-rage incident had led her to shoot and kill the person she was upset with. She was filled with remorse and struggled to understand how she could have gotten so out of hand. Her victim’s family was outraged and calling for more than a prison sentence.
This situation was the extreme, but we all find ourselves in circumstances that could potentially be dangerous, especially when we are driving. Being unoffendable is not about being weak, or being a victim. It is about taking the high ground–having self-restraint and not letting someone else’s behavior determine ours. Being offended is allowing our egos to rule the day. To be unoffendable, we must keep our feelings in check in order to make decisions we will not regret later.
As for me, I plan to work toward becoming unoffendable in minor incidents like the two I related here. In that way, hopefully I will have the skills to remain calm under extreme circumstances should I ever have to face them.