You Choose

The choice, as they say, is yours.

Today is gameday in South Carolina – SC is traveling to Clemson for the biggest rivalry in these parts. Families are torn today. Friends are on opposite sides of the divide. One side will be unhappy tonight – and, I hope, they’ll be mostly wearing orange. Some folks will be mad. Some will be mouthy, whiney, offended – and that’ll be on both sides, win/lose/draw.

It happens in politics (if you’re on Facebook, you know what it was like just a few short weeks ago, and still on some walls today). It happens in Christian circles, and I’m sure in other faith communities as well. It happens at work, at home, in the midst of family members, and in juts about anything we do together.

People disagree.

I don’t like conflict. Lots of people think I do. I’m the one who asks the “devil’s advocate” queries often, asking the counter-question in order to get to something other than the status quo. But that doesn’t mean I like to be at odds with the room.

It happens, though – and sometimes it makes folks angry that I don’t stay on the dotted line very well.

Or rather, they choose to be angry. Or if not actually mad, then to still treat me and my questions/statements as a hostile, as someone coming along with heresy and blasphemy at worst, with stupidity and childishness and in need of education at best.

Different ideas, different opinions, different expectations does not an enemy make.

But I choose to be offended. I choose to be angry. I choose to let someone else hold sway over how I feel about myself, about them, about life, the universe and everything.

But you choose to be offended. You choose to be angry. You choose to let someone else hold sway over how you feel about yourself, about them, about life, the universe and everything.

Or, I choose to not.

I choose today to not be angry, to not be offended, to not give someone else the keys to my emotional state.

We get to choose. Yes, it’s harder when the folks closest to you are the ones choosing to be offended, to be mad, to label you as the opposition. But it’s still your choice. It’s still my choice.

Rude and Offensive

“Are you going to turn that off or should I move?”

My son and I went to see Super8 yesterday – great movie, all four thumbs way up, by the way. I love going with the family to see good films. I enjoy talking about them after, about how good stories and great characters are important, about what makes something meaningful or funny or suspenseful. Some of my best memories growing up were at the movies, and I want that for our kids as well.

I love to see the trailers, too. I always worry that the trailers might be better than the movie itself, so I hate missing the previews pre-feature. And over the last couple of years I’ve taken to tweeting the trailers to make a note of what we saw, what flicks we might look forward to “coming soon”.

That’s the context of the question above: “Are you going to turn that off or should I move?” – asked by the lady behind us as my iphone lay in my lap, the last trailer listed, the opening credits beginning to roll.

It’s given me something to think about. Was I being rude by tweeting the upcoming films? No, I don’t think so – but that’s me justifying my actions as much as anything, I suppose. I’ve never had anyone mention it, so I don’t think there’s anything particular about this one “crossing the line”.

On the other hand, was she being rude? Believe me, I wanted to be offended. But honestly, I don’t think so. Her tone was a bit curt, but I’ve tried hard to not read emotion and offense into things like that in conversation or in text. If my phone being open and my presumed live tweet/texting was going to happen the whole movie, that would have been distracting. She asked with her own reasons, and I don’t think that was necessarily rude in and of itself.

“No, I’m turning it off now.” That was my response, and it was the truth: tweet sent, movie starting, so phone off and get into the story. I decided to not be offended – “perhaps you should move just in case” was a response that came to mind. But it wasn’t worth it, it was out of character for me, and, as I’ve pondered it in the background since, it would’ve been rude.