I watch the slightly blushed clouds slide across the dark cyan sky, as I prepare my first cup of coffee. It’s 5:30 in the morning and the clouds are barely perceptible, the sun still below the horizon. When the sneezing starts, I realize I need to take some allergy medicine. My daughter has allergies, too. Hers were even worse than mine, so the doctors recommended allergy shots to build up her immunity. I never knew such a thing existed. Allergy shots. What a concept.
I think we could all use a healthy regime of allergy shots, but not for pollen or animal dander. We need to develop our tolerance for harsh words and opposing ideas. Although I appreciate the growing harassment awareness and sensitivity training, I think we are developing a cultural mindset that relegates individuals into the roles of victim and aggressor. Although I appreciate those who want to protect me from mistreatment, what about my ability to stand up for myself? I don’t mean fight back in one of those “meet me on the playground” sort of brawls. I mean, why must I be so fragile that I will fall apart without your protection.
I think we all need to develop a little immunity. We need to be given the opportunity to develop the dignity of strength. When someone else says something that is intentionally mean or even slightly insensitive, do I need to take offense and coddle my wounded ego? Why must I play the role of the victim? I have other choices. I can consider that the other individual is speaking or acting from their own limited perspective. I can choose to reject the damage that individual intended to inflict.
Naturally, I am not saying we should allow sexism, racism, homophobia, or any other oppressive ideology or behavior to continue unchecked. We must actively work to dismantle that which does not serve the advancement of humanity. However, what I am saying is we should spend more time building up our own confidence and self-esteem, not bravado, but genuine self-worth. Genuine self-worth can face the attacks of others without shattering or enraging the ego. It will also make us less defensive and less likely to attack others. I refuse to put the power of my well-being in the hands of someone else. In essence, we should be building an immunity to stupidity that would prevent an overreaction to things that simply aren’t true.