“So many of us make a great fuss
of matters of small consequence.
We are so easily offended. Happy is
the man who can brush aside the
offending remarks of another and
go on his way.”
– Gordon B. Hinckley
Bob Woodward, who chronicled the Nixon-era Watergate scandal in “All the President’s Men” (perhaps more remembered as the movie with Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman), has recently published a new book. Titled “The War Within,” it deals with the internal struggles within the Bush administration on the proper conduct of the Iraq war.
Early in the book Woodward quotes the President addressing Gen. George Casey, commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq. The president said, during a video conference between Washington and Baghdad, “George, we’re not playing for a tie. I want to make sure we all understand this.”
Mr. Woodward then writes that Gen. Casey took this presidential remark as “an affront to his dignity that he would long remember.”
Now, we have only our faith and trust in Mr. Woodward as a reporter to validate Gen. Casey’s reaction. That and perhaps any lack of public repudiation of the characterization by Gen. Casey.
My point has nothing to do with politics or the Iraq war or the military. My point is the folly of majoring in minor things, of the useless energy we waste when we choose to take offense at things that we should most likely simply shrug off. When we take offense, it is often to ourselves we do the most harm.
I was not there to hear the tenor of the remark nor do I know the full context. I do know that in my life I have said many things I should not have said or that could easily have been taken the wrong way. I am eternally gratefully to those who have forgiven me my trespasses or who had enough faith and trust in me and my potential to give me the benefit of the doubt.
Armed with the humbling memory of my own verbal faults, I find it much easier to take any intemperate remarks of others in stride, to frame them in the most positive light or to simply attribute them to a bad day.
“We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.” – Abraham Lincoln
“Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it.” – Rene Descartes