Offended (or, trigger is not a horse)

I saw this quote on a promo for JP Sears’ latest podcast episode, an interview with Master Coach Brandon Hawk. Now, if you have not yet discovered JP, you’re missing out (at the very least, you’ve avoided being offended)! JP is my new favorite provocateur…a comedian who pokes fun at anything and everything related to the New Age phenomenon.

As one would expect, there are plenty of offended folks out there, upset that he dissed their gluten free diet or their conscious parenting practice. Heck, he even has a video about how to be offended!

On the surface, you might get the idea that he is an atheist or perhaps a devout Catholic who disagrees with the New Age take on spirituality. But, when you dive deeper, his over-the-top antics (JP is truly an internet sensation) serve an important purpose. A purpose that struck home after reading his tagline.

Comedians throughout history have used biting/offensive jokes as a means to call out inequities, to offend “equally,” or to make a political statement. In this way, JP is no different, other than the fact that his satire is aimed at New Agers. What is different, in my view, is the current climate of our country – a climate in which we are hyper-sensitive to any remark or overture that challenges our status quo – the roles we play and the stories we tell ourselves.

We have become a nation that takes itself WAY too seriously, and we have come to view our belief systems as sacred and immutable. Instead of embracing our diversity, this trend sets up an us vs them scenario. When we encounter someone with a different belief, rather than stopping to reflect, we act out of habit to defend our position.

What I think JP tries to do, like many comedians, is to say such outlandish things that it makes us take pause. And when we pause, we make time for reflection. Although I can’t speak for him, I believe JP would have us take it one step further.

JP targets spirituality not because he is an atheist, but because he IS a devout believer. And, he understands that those of us who are deeply religious or spiritual are not immune to the ego-based feelings of superiority that can keep us separated. In fact, this tendency was something I noticed immediately, once I stepped away from the Christian “box” to embrace a more holistic view of spirituality – folks on both sides could succumb to those common human emotions.

As JP suggests, perhaps we can take another look (yikes!) at those things that, at first glance, seem to offend. Believe it or not, we can learn a lot from our triggers. But this time, when we pause, let’s drop into our heart space. The heart is what connects us…ALL of us. When we think with the heart, we are better able to overcome those human emotions that keep us divided, because with LOVE, it’s always a win-win.