Thoughtful piece on self-exclusion and empathy for others. I am not sure this works in all cases; sometimes self-exclusion can lead to excessive righteousness and judgement of others (e.g., some variants of religion or intellectual snobbery). However, interesting reflection, that would have benefited from some examples of the author’s increased empathy or tolerance. Quote:
Being excluded from a group because of choices you’ve made, what you believe, or what you are is painful, to say the least. But it can also make you strong. It forces you to define your boundaries. To know why they exist. To practice defending them. To practice paying attention to your own voice amid the often deafening cacophony of the voices of those around you.
And it does one thing more: it makes you more empathetic. This, by helping you to appreciate the struggles of those others who also don’t fit, who find themselves trying to find their own community. Being excluded because of the choices you make can even make you empathetic to the suffering of those who most stringently seek to ostracize you. In sum, being excluded makes it far more likely you’ll be able to live according to Plato’s admonition to “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” For few things, I’ve found, make us as kind as needing a little kindness ourselves.