What do former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Taylor Swift, Hulk Hogan, Meek Mill and Twitter have in common? Last week, they all made headlines because they apologized. Just another news cycle in an easily offended society.
On any given day in America, someone makes headlines by apologizing. Apologies and forgiveness are necessary things. But most of these public apologies aren’t sincere — they’re just PR stunts designed to save face for people and organizations that have done incredibly stupid things.
Our easily offended culture
Public relations stunts aside, the growing wave of public apologies is a symptom of a culture filled with easily offended people:
In a world that encourages us to outdo and outperform the competition (i.e., everyone else), our ego drives us to defend our status at all costs and makes us hyper-sensitive to slights and offenses, even when we know the offense is relatively minor.
Ironically, for a nation that touts its origin in the ideals of freedom and liberty, we’re quickly becoming a nation of captives — captives who are trapped by the need to defend ourselves from feeling angered and annoyed.
To be truly free, we’ll need to conquer our egos and embrace the responsibilities our freedom brings.
The problem with being easily offended
There’s a big difference between being easily offended and being outspoken about legitimate social justice issues.
For example, racial slurs, discrimination and symbols of oppression (yes, I’m talking about the Confederate flag) should elicit a quick response from anyone and everyone with enough guts to claim to follow the Jesus described in the gospels.
But when we become easily offended by lesser things, it desensitizes us to the legitimate injustices that exist in the world.
When everyone is outraged all the time, the noise of it all drowns out the cries for justice from the poor, the marginalized and the truly oppressed.
In 2 Corinthians 10, the apostle Paul says,
I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
By choosing to ignore the mad impulses of our ego and its insatiable appetite for being bigger and better than others, we become immune to insults, put-downs, slights and offenses. We allow God to turn weakness into strength and instead of being easily offended, we become nearly impossible to offend.
More importantly, by starving our egos of oxygen, we quiet the noise and it becomes easier to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, urging us to stand up and speak out on behalf of others — especially those who are least able to speak for themselves.