Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Aren't we getting just a little too sensitive?

Okay, I'll admit I'm the first to rise up on my haunches when I suffer an injustice in public (like that twitty, rude 11-year old who cut in front of me at my gym last week). But when a stranger offers a pleasantry (so rare these days), why not just smile and accept it, even if it doesn't make sense to you?

I love hearing "Merry Christmas" in December (or hell, any time of year). I bristle inside, but still like hearing, "Happy Holidays." (It tells me said person has been instructed in the evil ways of PC.) Around Xmas one year, I recall reading an advice column in which the letter writer bitched about the glut of displays at Christmastime. She was Jewish, and she hated seeing Christmas Trees, Decorations, and "Merry Christmas" signs at the mall. She thought there should be equal Hanukkah swag. Thinking she may have had a point, I asked my friend Don (who happens to be Jewish) what he thought.

"This is a mostly Christian nation. Get over it," was his take.

I couldn't agree more.

We just had Mother's Day. In 11 days, we stumble upon Father's Day. And, of course, the advice columns are rife with letters such as:
  • "My mom died last year! I'm still grieving! How dare the bag boy wish me Happy Mother's Day!"
  • "My son's father is a bum! How dare the cashier tell us 'Have a nice Father's Day tomorrow!'"
Okay, first of all, how is a stranger supposed to know what private hell you are enduring?

They're not. More complaining like this, and pretty soon all small businesses and corporate entities, fearful of lawsuits, will instruct all employees not to say anything ever, and then any semblance of kind wishes will go away. It's bad enough that my Walgreen's cashier is usually eating potato chips and talking on her cell phone while barely managing to scan my items (then gives me the evil eye when I tell her she still owes me $1 in change).

I get "Have a nice Mother's Day!" when I go shopping on the 3rd (or is it 2nd?) Sunday in May. I'm not a mom -- but I enjoy the niceness, so I just smile and say, "Thanks, you too!" regardless of the nice person's gender.

I have a cousin, who, like me, is child-free. We'll usually call each other on these holidays that don't apply to us (Mother's and Father's Day) and wish each other a Happy Whatever, then we have a laugh.

Also, when you think about it, the person who is offended is feeling so because s/he (and I hate to say it, but it usually is a "she") has chosen to attach meaning and emotion to a stranger's words. Words that are, essentially, meaningless. They're on par with "Have a nice day."

Deepak Chopra writes about how we can choose to feel as a result of someone's words. If someone says something to us, it's really our choice to feel offended. We can equally choose to ignore it.

If you choose to be offended, though, I suppose it's also your choice to email as many advice columnists as you choose, and bitch about how you were wronged by someone who doesn't even know you.