The Greatest Gateway Drug of All

With all due respect to Fred Clark:

They took offense.

It was easy to get. At parties, at work, after work, even on television. Some got theirs out of books or movies, some waited for an election season to begin (or end) before diving in. It was all over the internet. Some got theirs in church. It seemed harmless enough.

And it made them feel great. A shot of offense was enough to turn a boring discussion of minutiae into a great, roiling, one-act play about them. Lights, places, action! It was intense.

But like all gateway drugs, the intensity was temporary, almost a cheat. They took more and more offense to maintain the extraordinary high, to make it seems as if their lives were about something greater than themselves. About something, period. The illusion displaced the reality, too quickly. With each new hit the lows got lower and the highs were relegated to mere background noise.

Then they tried the hard stuff. Indignation. Umbrage. Tantrums. Wrath. Even pique, and Oh. My. God in heaven, self-righteousness. That stuff was the shit, and it was everywhere. The pros took it, the wannabes took it. The politicians, the businessmen, the college professors, the cops, the pundits, the bloggers, the social media geeks, the preachers, the teachers, the parents even took it.  It had a way of soothing the mind while energizing the body. On a bad day it felt like swallowing a five hundred cc engine. On a good day, they felt they could leap Mt. Everest in a single bound. Self-righteousness was the ultimate score.

There were consequences. They hurt people. They hurt themselves. They became known as fatuous gasbags, crybabies, whiners, hypocrites. But in the depths of their binges, they never noticed. All they knew was that they were right. (Say Hallelujah!)

Don’t take offense.

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