Monday, November 13, 2006

No Offense

After starting my 4th grade year at a public school I went to live with my mom and was transferred into a private 'Adventist' school. I wasn't really raised in the 'Seventh-Day Adventist Church' other than attending 'Sabbath School' every other Saturday, when my mom had visitation rights. Thus I kind of knew the basics regarding Jesus and the Bible... However, I was NOT prepared well enough when one day, a couple weeks into my 'Adventist School' experience I was harshly admonished for saying, "Oh my god!" while playing a game of 'Capture the Flag' on the playground. I remember my name being called out sharply by a teacher on the playground and summoned to approach her. I had absolutely NO idea WHAT I had done and slunk over because I knew by the tone with which my name was called that whatever it was... it was BAD! I stood before the teacher and received a verbal smack-down for using Gods name in vain and was told "Don't EVER let me hear you use that phrase AGAIN!" I was terribly frightened. Mostly because I was the type of kid that did everything in my power to be a 'people pleaser'... Here I was just two weeks into a new school and I was branded as foul mouthed... And yet I had NO idea why, what I had said was so offensive... Everyone I knew up to that point, including my mother used that phrase. I still shake inside when I think about the incident because I was treated so harshly for something I wasn't even aware of being wrong.

I attended the school for 2 yrs. and it didn't take long to find out that the use of "shoot, darn & gosh" were also frowned upon... Because they were forms of the same bad language... You used those words and you were looked at with a glare that said, "I KNOW what you meant to say!" Loud growls of frustration were acceptable so instead of a school of kids that were going to hell we sounded like a wild-life reserve.

Old habits die hard and since I had only a couple of years of expression repression, it wasn't long before I was back to my old ways. Heck, I grew up in Southern California when the 80's were rife with 'Valley Girls' exclaiming, "Like O' ma gahd, I'm SO sur!" I've never said the phrase to offend anyone. I'm simply not the type of person to antagonize and I always try to show respect for the beliefs of others.

Which brings me to last Friday night. We went out to dinner with a group of friends, some of which, we are well aware, are Catholic. When one of the guys bowed his head and crossed himself before his meal, I felt mildly uncomfortable as I always am with open displays of religion outside of a church. But hey, if that's what he feels is important, than so be it. The thing that got me majorly flustered was when I was telling a story and I said, "Oh my god!" and he immediately bowed his head and crossed himself. I KNOW it's MY baggage but I was immediately back on the playground in 4th grade feeling flustered and embarressed... And yes, a bit angry too! There were several other Catholics at the table. Thankfully, none of them felt the need to ask for God's forgiveness over MY 'blasphemy.'

I've spent the last few days mulling this event over in my head. Part of me is terribly ashamed that I might have offended my friend. Part of me is angry for feeling ashamed... After all, it's NOT part of MY beliefs. I'm of the opinion that it's important to respect what one holds sacred. But there is this line which one must not cross when it comes to imposing ones beliefs on another. The line here is subtle. Am I more upset about having offended his idea of what is right or wrong?... Or that he offended me by imposing those beliefs upon me, by assuming I was insulting HIS God with a simple phrase?


Blogger trixie said...

I hate, hate, hate things like that. It makes me feel less than human. And I see it as being offensive to me. No, I may not be particularly Christian by anyone's standards...No, I think this might deserve a post rather than just me ranting on a comment.

12:43 PM, November 15, 2006  
Blogger Margie Blystone said...

Point well taken Trixie... Thanks!

3:07 PM, November 15, 2006  
Blogger Amy said...

I dunno, Marge. I've had the same experience where I wasn't sure what the crossing was about, and I (of course, ALWAYS assuming it is in response to me) (I am the center of the universe, you know, and every weird interpersonal dynamic around me is my doing) (I am all powerful!) have asked about it and it turns out to have been totally unrelated. Crossing oneself is a quick, silent prayer that could be about anything. I'd ask the person, and, if I had offended them, I'd try not to do it again, just for politeness' sake, but I don't know that you should assume it was about you, just based on my own experience with the same thing...

You potty mouth, you.

5:10 PM, November 15, 2006  
Blogger Parker RumRunner said...

I'm Catholic, and I don't do that. Of course, I curse quite a bit, so maybe I'm not the best example - but there is no reason to expect you to behave in the same way they do. Totally unfair.

5:40 PM, November 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next time..just say HOLY SHIT!! (oh, god, I'm bad...)

1:31 PM, November 16, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next time..just say HOLY SHIT!! (oh, god, I'm bad...)

1:32 PM, November 16, 2006  

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