If This Offends You, I’m Not Sorry

Every human on planet earth sees, hears, thinks, and feels differently about everything.

Every human on planet earth sees, hears, thinks, and feels differently about everything.

I ran across a great quote recently, quite possibly the best quote I’ve ever read. Like all great quotes the message it conveys is clear, concise, poignant, illustrative, brilliantly illuminating and true. I would also add poetic. It is by all measures, both a literary and philosophical masterpiece.

Of course, that is just my opinion. Yours may be entirely different. After reading the quote you may come to an entirely different conclusion for reasons which I will make crystal clear.

I was struck by how profoundly true the message of this quote seemed to me. It resonated with me on many levels. When I first read the quote it made me smile because of the wisdom it conveyed using very simple words. I thought, “How clever.”

Afterward, I became introspective as the consequences of the message became clear to me. I realized there was no place left for me to hide concerning my thoughts, opinions and feelings.

The quote is by Anais Nin, a Cuban American author with an international background and rather colorful career. Here is the quote:

We don’t see things the way they are.

                    We see things the way we are.

Here is the same quote with my own emphasis added:

          We don’t see things the way they are.

                    We see things the way we are.

I have always been struck by the differences between people in their reactions to identically shared experiences. People can see the same movie, witness the same accident, read the same book, listen to the same conversation and walk away with completely different interpretations or accounts of what has transpired.

Clearly, the events don’t change so what is going on here? The answer is individuality. We are singularly unique in this respect. Every human on planet earth sees, hears, thinks, and feels differently about everything.

We all carry with us the imprint and influence of our sex, upbringing, education, social and cultural biases and life experiences. Not to mention the differences in brain function due to the effects of our unique genetic makeup. In short, identical stimuli will affect different people differently.

We can not disabuse ourselves or dispose of our feelings, viewpoints and biases so easily, if at all. Even if we were able to, everyone would dispose of them differently and what would remain would still be different from one person to the next.

This quote is disarmingly powerful in my opinion because it puts the individual on notice that they are 100% responsible for their own feelings. It lets us know in no uncertain terms that we are the source of how we view the world and everyone in it. 

It seems to me too many people are walking around being offended at nearly every turn these days. I long for a world of truth, personal responsibility and reality based thinking. A world in which the chronically offended realize it isn’t the world they see which is offensive. They are just seeing themselves.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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One thought on “If This Offends You, I’m Not Sorry

  1. You’re right. Our reactions and feelings to the happenings surrounding ourselves belong to us. No one makes another “feel” a certain way. We do this ourselves. Perhaps if all would realize this, the world might be a better place. No apologies are necessary. We should all take deep breaths and forget about the nonSENCE of political correctness. That’s not to dismiss the importance of cordiality and decorum. With freedom of speech comes ownership of what POWERFUL WORDS spawn from our mouths. These riots in Baltimore are uncalled for. Replacing the American flag with a black and white one is unconventional and contemptible. Naturally, my own reactions are colored by the fact that my father fought for our flag along with countless others. There were many times when I had wondered if he would come back alive. In retrospect, I do have feelings on the appropriateness or inappropriateness of some of the battles and wars fought. This opinionatedness results from all the aforementioned points which you covered, Clark. The short of it would be that without our differences, maybe we would all seem like robots. Makes for an interesting world, would you say? So, how do you feel about kneejerk reactions?