Ugh . . . I hate it when this happens.
I hate it when I'm on the receiving end--when someone says something that makes it clear that if they really knew me, they would pretty much hate me. It happens a lot on Facebook, of course--my friends post their opinions that people who believe differently than they do (in other words, people who believe like I do) are unpatriotic, false Christians, unenlightened, and worse. In fact, just recently I've been told that I don't deserve to live in this country and that I practice the occult. Of course, people don't mean to tell me that. But by saying that about people who believe differently, they're unwittingly saying those things about me.
I hate it even more when I'm the one who does that to others. In a recent post, I flippantly said that bumper stickers asserting that "9/11 was an inside job" are stupid. Someone anonymously posted a comment that he/she holds that opinion. I almost didn't see the comment and in fact, only happened on it last night. I was immediately sad that I had clearly insulted someone I care about (because I can't think of anyone that I talk to regularly that I don't care about) and that I did it flippantly and unthinkingly.
Now don't get me wrong: I can't imagine changing my opinion about 9/11. I know what I believe about that. But that's not what this is about. I know how to express my opinion and defend my thinking without calling other ideas and people "stupid" and I deeply value that ability. I know better.
(By the way, I'm hoping that anonymous will be willing to identify himself/herself and have a conversation about it--not about 9/11 but about any emotional or relational impact of my judgmental statement. I would welcome that.)