kindness often comes in the wake of tragedy

Warning: navel gazing ahead.

I've noticed something about religious people in my 30+ years as a person of faith, much of that spent in an extreme element of Christianity – they often get much more kind and gentle and less dogmatic when the real world comes at them from the side, usually in the form of some tragedy but often just when they get blindsided by something about which they're not prepared to "stick to their guns" whatever reason.

I don't want to out anyone close to me so I'll speak in generalities but I have at least 10 close-to-home specific examples just in the past 10 years or so.

Sometimes, these people start by putting up their spiritual fortresses and being even more dogmatic, but in many cases, that only lasts so long and by the end of the experience, they're much more kind and reasonable human beings.

I think it's too bad people of deep religious conviction can't just start out that way instead of requiring some sort of tragedy to temper them.

I guess it's really about maturity though isn't it? When you're young and ideological you tend to be an ass-hole. Usually (hopefully?), those attitudes temper with time – you might remain just as passionate and ideological but you learn better ways to treat others and communicate your views.  

I have often said that the edges of religions seem to hold the most immature people I've ever encountered. Emotionally and socially immature and limited in a sense of self, individuation, etc. They are well meaning, decent human beings on the whole and certainly not bad people (at least no on purpose) and this is not an accusation of the "them". I've observed this in myself as well. In fact, the main reason I can see all of this "out there" is because I've lived it. 

I have gotten to know several wonderful, mature, kind, generous and overall delightful people of strong religious conviction – that gives me hope that it's possible. But I still wonder sometimes if there is something built into the very fibers of religion that make it difficult to be a mature, individuated, kind person who can hold things with an open hand instead of a closed, read-to-punch-you-in-the-face fist.

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