It's always amazing to me how you can get a bunch of people together and find either something in common or that outlier that is off the radar screen. I am sometimes the outlier but I also run into people who are outliers but on the opposite end of the tolerance gradient from me. I happened to run into some people last evening that were related to some of the work that I do.
One of the guys in the group, an older man, started talking about how he can't stand men who have earrings. He seemed also to be very homophobic. Now, I really don't get worked up about much of anything anymore, but I do like to have a little fun sometimes when I can. I said that I thought that if someone liked having piercings it was fine with me since I believed in the live and let live philosophy. Then, I lifted my hair that covered my right ear and showed the 10 piercings that I had. I thought that he would pass out. He said a few choice words and began to ask the usual questions of why would I do that to myself and what was I thinking, etc. You know the drill--the incredulity of someone who is heavily judgemental and self-righteous of which we were both guilty. I'm sure that he was thinking how glad he was that he didn't have a son like me and I was thinking how glad I was that I didn't have the same thought processes that he had.
This kind of thinking creates the prejudices that we have in our society. I was guilty of rising to the bait, albeit with humor and not malice, but this indicates to me that my best move might have been to have excused myself politely and walked away. I can think of many times that I've risen to being baited by my alcoholic, only to have an argument ensue that was damaging. I think that Live and Let Live is a very good philosophy and one that I believe in. The interchange that I had with this guy indicates that I need to revisit Step One, concentrating on my powerlessness over people, places, and things. I also need to think clearly about Live and Let Live and letting those things that grate my soul, just slide past like a wake of a boat. They may rock you a bit but eventually the water is calm again and you can get underway.