You’re sitting at the computer, reading an article and getting disgusted and angry with the viewpoint expressed. You think people doing that must be absolutely mad and you can’t imagine why anyone would even consider it. And then you learn that a good friend is considering it, and maybe it isn’t quite so weird now.
This happens with everything. Oh, we may still disagree with our friends who do those things we find odd, but it’s harder to write off all practitioners as crazies. Why? Because now we have a face to go with that thing instead of it just being some anonymous “other”.
It’s easy to rant and rave about something a complete stranger is doing. We don’t know the person, only one particular facet. We reduce the person to that one trait and start condemning him based on that alone. When a person we know subscribes to that practice, though, we cannot just reduce that person to that one trait. No, we already know that person as a whole person, so we can see the person and not just the trait. Suddenly, we don’t get as angry or condemning because we can recognise someone personally.
When I start to get angry at a practice and those who practise it, I try to stop and remember that these are people. I may not personally know them, but that’s all the more reason to give benefit of the doubt, seeing as I know nothing of their backgrounds. Ideally this knowledge should also stop me from mocking a practice, as I mightn’t know if a friend does it (unfortunately this has happened to me, where I’ve had to quickly reevaluate and rethink). Obviously we’ll never all agree on everything (wouldn’t that be boring?!), but we can at least remember there’ a person behind that disagreement and so we should approach with the love due another person.