Be bold and be sensitive

Tales from the front pew

There’s an epidemic overtaking our nation, and unfortunately there isn’t a vaccine on the market to prevent it. I’m referring to OSS — Over-Sensitivity Syndrome. It’s rampant and strikes when you least expect it.

I know this from experience because a few weeks ago, I was the unwitting recipient of OSS in its most blatant form.

It all started quite innocently when, half-jokingly, I made an observation to a friend/acquaintance on Facebook.

Just an aside here; Facebook has a lot of OSS potential. I call it the intimacy/anonymity paradox (IAP).

Simply defined, Facebook provides a forum for people to discuss and disclose extremely personal information. In turn, this invites other people to enter into that oh-so-private space and make comments and suggestions they would probably never make in person.

One problem — since these relationships aren’t real, the person receiving said advice sometimes get offended. You know, kind of like the “I can say something rotten about my boyfriend to you, but you just better not agree” phenomenon.

Following my half-joking observation, I was utterly shocked to get an answering post full of enough vitriol to kill a venomous snake.

Apparently, according to my Facebook friend(?), I had become a horrible, nasty, jealous person who deeply resented his accomplishments.

Nothing could be further from the truth. For one thing, I applaud this individual’s success, and for another, he has excelled in an area in which I have absolutely no interest.

Wanting to dispel his misconception, I immediately posted an apology, stating that I had intended no offense, and in fact thought he had much to be proud of. His response was a selfie featuring a raised finger. To avoid being overly graphic, I’ll not disclose precisely which finger. Suffice it to say, however, he wasn’t telling me I was “No. 1.” Yep, OSS at its finest.

Of course, everybody knows that two things polite folks are never supposed to discuss are politics and religion.

Not surprisingly, these both happen to be prime OSS areas.

Just a few minutes of watching any news show highlights this fact. More and more often today, red, white and blue doesn’t stand as much for the American flag as it does the politicians — red-faces, white lips and bulging blue forehead veins.

Why is OSS so prevalent in this area?

Two basic reasons, in my humble opinion: One, people are certain that their ideas are the right ones. Two, they want you to realize it, too, and will go to great lengths to make that happen. When it doesn’t, they take it as a personal affront. There’s OSS rearing its ugly head again.

That brings us to religion, often another super-sensitive subject (SSS?).

As Christians, we’ve all been through it — the hesitancy to share our faith with unbelievers. That reticence isn’t very hard to understand. When you think about it, there’s a lot to be afraid of: rejection, ridicule, alienation, and in some cases even violence (and that’s just among family members).

Jesus was sensitive to the people to whom He ministered, but He was also bold enough to share the truth. Shouldn’t we do the same?