Not so quick to take offense
A reminder last week about travel vaccines offered by the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department brought back memories of a trip I took several years ago for a destination wedding of sorts, in a country where the recommended number of vaccines was a little daunting. But I got the shots, and the follow-ups, took the tablets … I was ready.
What I remember, though, is not so much the number of needles poked into me, but a conversation I had with the happy couple shortly before the trip. The bride was a native of the country we were visiting. The groom was an American. In casual conversation about the number of vaccines I had been given, the groom looked appalled, pulled me to the side and shushed me. He genuinely believed it was offensive of me to suggest that his bride’s country was a place in which I might get sick. He assumed she would be upset by my gauche revelation, and that it betrayed an unacceptable less-than-worldly quality in his friends.
She was laughing at him.
I turned to her and asked her if she wore bug-repellant when she hiked in the West Virginia woods. Still laughing, she said that yes, she did, and one of the reasons was that she had been warned about Lyme disease.
Good, I told her. Not only am I not offended that you would take such precautions, I encourage them.
We then gave the poor guy a bit of a hard time for being on such high alert for opportunities to be offended, and for confusing common sense with backwardness.
Later, while enjoying an incredible trip, I was happy I had gotten all those shots … because I’ve never been feasted upon by so many mosquitos in my life. And later still, we realized some of the other guests on the trip who had not gotten any vaccinations were regretting it. One of them has continuing health problems to this day.
So there are two lessons here. If you are traveling, get the shots. (Or whatever the health department recommends.) And for goodness sake, people, stop looking so hard for reasons to be offended. There is plenty of real hurt happening around us everyday. Maybe if we weren’t looking so hard for the manufactured issues we could find solutions to the ones that just sit there simmering as they have for generations, with no end in sight.
A good place to start is looking at whether we are practicing the Golden Rule. “Do to others what you would have them do to you;” or, even better, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7: 12 and 1-2).
We are celebrating the One who spoke those words today, who was incredibly slow to take offense (unless you were a hypocrite, scribe, Pharisee or money-changer; in which case, hold on to your tables — He has a real problem with those trying to “shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces” [Matthew 23:13 NIV]); and who tried to do for us more than we could ever do in return.
Maybe taking a moment to consider whether we need to make any adjustments of our own on this day we talk so much about renewal is a fitting part of the celebration.
Happy Easter, everyone!
Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org