Today I’d like to share a quote from one of my all-time favorite books: Frank Herbert’s Dune.
When strangers meet, great allowance should be made for differences of custom and training.
This quote comes from the Lady Jessica during the famous dinner party scene that happens fairly early in the novel. It’s probably not among Dune’s most famous lines, but it’s a line that’s stuck with me over the years.
It’s so easy—too easy, in fact—to take offense when no offense was intended. Sometimes it seems as though there are people who are eager to be offended by something just so they have an excuse to lash out at people.
But really, we all come from different backgrounds, with different customs. We’ve all been trained to live by different social rules, and it’s not always clear—especially when meeting someone for the first time—where the boundaries of offensive and inoffensive behavior are being drawn.
I know I’ve said and done things that others found offensive, just as I know I’ve been offended by the things other people say or do. So I try to keep this little nugget of Sci-Fi wisdom in mind whenever someone, whether in real life or here on the Internet, offends me in some way.
Anyway, that’s just my two cents. Feel free to disagree, and if you do I promise not to be offended.