Trust Intent

As many of you who have children know, raising two kids that are four years apart can be a harrowing experience. One is sometimes too young to understand that their behavior is offending some sensibility or another that the older one thinks is vital to her very soul.  Or the older one thinks that she can just pound her opinion into the younger one…because, well….because.  But more often than not, there were arguments about she said, he said stuff.

It was during the refereeing of these type of arguments that I came up with the words of advice, “Trust Intent.”

Trust Intent as a slogan usually didn’t stop the whining or actually solve the problem, but it allowed both kids (and myself sometimes) to stop and reason as to whether or not the problem was one where one party was intentionally trying to hurt the other, or if indeed, it was just a misunderstanding.

Usually, it was all just a misunderstanding.

So last night I was offended by something someone wrote on FB.  I became upset and thought, the usual, “Off with their heads” stuff.  Then I remembered, I need to trust their intent. I misunderstood, and am being too sensitive.  So I let it go.

Those of you that know me, know that I don’t usually let things go. But I did, meaning, I did not respond.  But I did start thinking.

When is it that someone can be “sooo sensitive” to something and when is it that the offending party is insensitive?  It’s one of those chicken and egg arguments.

Seriously, though.  I have been through a ton of cultural sensitivity training wherein we were taught about ethnic cultures, language barriers, sexual preference biases, ADA, etc. etc. and this is the first time I actually thought about why they call it “sensitivity training.”

Who and what are they teaching to be sensitive to?  I was told, “don’t be so sensitive” in response to my non-emotional comment about the facts of the matter at hand.  Hmmmm…  So did I fail my sensitivity training because I am still sensitive to ethnic / racial / nationality bias?

Or did I fail my sensitivity training because I was insensitive to the others’ lack of sensitivity?

Shouldn’t we be developing training to teach people to be less insensitive, rather than teaching people to be more sensitive?  I think so.

Think about it.  There is no way that I can learn all the nuances of being gay/lesbian; Chinese, blind, deaf, autistic, Hmong, Inuit, etc etc.

But I can learn to respect everyone at the basic level of human dignity.  Its simpler to learn and easier to teach.

So was I being too sensitive to the joke at the expense of cultural differences? Or was the speaker being insensitive to the fact that her words could be offensive, if not to one, then to maybe someone else?

Is “irregardless” acceptable to use if the intent is clearly humorous?  Nay! Nay! I say!

We are all created equal.  A slur, bias, discrimination, maltreatment, or preference affecting one, affects us all!

But OK, I’ll trust intent and leave it alone. For now…..

Thanks for being my friends.


About Caro

I am a social worker by training and a peace officer by profession having worked with California’s delinquent youth and young adults for 28 years. I firmly believe that our development as humans depends on our environment and that sometimes we get stuck. As such, I write about those things we sometimes ignore or fail to see until we are forced to pay attention.
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