Thursday, 28 May 2015

On Being Offensive

It's been an interesting few days! I've learned a lot about being offensive and taking offence!

One of the Facebook groups I frequent had a blow-out. I won't go into details, but you can imagine, if you've been on Facebook long enough.

It wasn't pretty and people got hurt, blamed the administrator, relationships broken, and now there's all the subsequent slander and back-biting that inevitably comes after people are hurt and feel betrayed.

I even tried to bring some understanding, hope and life into the mess and got slammed for being controlling, insensitive, passive aggressive etc.

It hurt. Many simply couldn't or wouldn't understand what I was saying.

What came out of all this though, is the whole idea of venting - expressing our offences and hurts, working through the pain and frustration, being free to look at abuse and how it affects us, and right through to holding the other person accountable for
what they've done.

This is a huge issue, and something we aren't really good at discussing in depth. When people are really hurt, the last thing they want is to be rational. They need the space to process and work through it all. But there's also the issue of inflaming the problem, of causing damage to others, that down the line sometime, we may realise was completely unjustified. We can cause a heck of a lot of damage to others during the venting process.

What do we do? How do we express this stuff in a way that affirms our own pain and feelings of injustice, rejection, control or whatever, but allows the "offender" the same right to process the events - all in a way that brings life and love.

All too often the end result is complete separation and division, and, especially where there has been religion involved, accusations of selfish, evil intentions, fraud, slander, you name it. It turns into a witch hunt, looking for any action the offender may have made that could be construed to fit with the initial offence.

Perhaps the very public acts of control, abuse and deception by high profile "preachers and ministers" that have affected many innocent people, have created a mentality that is overly sensitive to these issues? We are far more aware of how this dynamic works than we ever have been. But here's the thing - we are all capable of it, and actually do it all the time as part of our complex systems of interactions and relationships.

I've often caught myself trying to manipulate a situation, say the right words to get people to agree with me and do what I want. I've juggled group dynamics to my own benefit, and as a worship leader, its something we are trained to do very well (but that's a whole other story!!). I want to protect my vested interests, my security - not in terms of income etc, but in terms of my self value. I've worked hard to protect myself and I want to maintain that, even if it means using manipulation to achieve it.

This is what we do as humans. We all do. But when we are in a position of power and responsibility, these habits become far more problematic.

So how does this all work in relation to my original idea? Bloody good question!!

Perhaps it simply means that we ALL have a far greater responsibility to own our emotions than we care to admit. Perhaps our propensity for self pity, however well deserved, is our Achilles Heal. We need to be honest with ourselves on every level, to admit our weaknesses and to give ourselves room to process, work through the emotions and grow. We need the space and freedom to come out the other end with dignity and self-worth. But if we do that at the expense of anyone else, have we really achieved anything?

I don't know. Relationships are hard. All I DO know is that love, compassion and empathy are absolutely key to all we do, no matter how difficult, even in our worst pain! Love is a key we so easily throw away in focussing on our own needs.

Let's work together - be vulnerable - be open - share our pain - remember that we all need the same amount of love; no matter if we have offended, or are offended.