Trigger Warnings or Personal Strength? Your Choice!

In my previous post, I began with what I thought to be a funny opening and poking fun at the overly offended people in our time. I am sure this was insensitive in the eyes of some people, but allow me to explain.

I play around a lot. My sense of humor is quite wide, and everyone who has known me for any length of time will tell you that there is very little that I take seriously. I am quite often very sincere, but only rarely serious. While I love my friends more than even they know, I generally could not care less about the groups, political parties, and social causes which they belong to and identify with. I can, and typically will,  view you as a real treasure, and not care one bit about your periphery.

So, in this article, I started with a trigger warning. A trigger warning is a warning for those who might be offended or traumatized by information or images contained in a presentation. I hate the entire concept of trigger warnings because it allows people to cling to a victim identity and in so doing, avoid the opportunity for growth and personal strength. No one ever becomes stronger by avoiding topics that bring up bad memories or otherwise make them uncomfortable. People become stronger by facing fears and growing past bad experiences, and in so doing they become a living, breathing example to others who have similar experiences. True, some experiences are harder to overcome. They must be overcome nonetheless if you are to experience any growth at all.

As a youngster, I was bullied. I was bullied because I was fat, socially awkward, and in general had no charisma or natural talents of any kind. I was unloved and, if I am being honest, I was pretty unloveable. And  all of this was in addition to being physically and emotionally weak.

I would never have become who I am or been able to get over all of that if I had just avoided anything that reminded me that I was fat, awkward, unlikable, irritating, afraid, untalented, or weak. Rather than avoiding such reminders, I became stronger, learned to stand up for myself, and (eventually) worked on my people skills.

But there are a large number of very vocal people who insist that they never should be reminded of things that make them uncomfortable. Such was the case with the post on my much loved Gurkha Kukri. When I turned a trigger warning into a joke, someone became…well…triggered.

In a rant where I was called every conceivable name in the book, I was chastised without mercy. The bully tactics were there with threats of certain actions to be taken against me. The email contained veiled threats of worse action as well, but threats from a person who can be damaged by insensitive words don’t mean a lot to me.

But the strange thing was the way in which this person was acting as if their unkind behavior was justified because they are nicer than I am. Obviously, they are not nice to me. I might want to assume that they are probably triggered by anyone who disagrees with them on anything at all if I am to base broad judgments on a single email.

We have fallen far. There was a time when our nation was filled with people who were independent, free, and able to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps whenever they fell, or even when they were knocked down. Remember the old saw “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” What ever happened to that?

And one thing that I have to add; we never let other people define us.

If someone says mean things about you or whatever group you choose to identify with, why should you even give their words a ghost of a thought? Do they define you? Does their opinion define you? Do the thoughts and words of anyone else define you?

Or do your actions define you?

Do you let your circumstances define you, or will you be defined by what you do with your circumstances?

We all have these options. I recommend choosing strength and self-determination. If my opening to the previous article hurt your feelings, I can apologize, but it will be up to you to get over it and move on, or pitch a hissy fit, whichever you prefer. Your actions are the only ones under your control.