Libresco makes a crucial point, as two recent news stories demonstrate.
There's Wendell Potter, a health-care "Judas" who had a "Road to Damascus" experience. (I didn't realize Judas ever took the road to Damascus, but whatever.) Potter went from health-care executive to vociferous Obamacare supporter, after seeing what some of the uninsured had to go through just to get basic medical care. Potter wrote, “Until that day, I had been able to think, talk and write about the U.S. health care system and the uninsured in the abstract, as if real-life human beings were not involved.”
And last year, there was Louis Marinelli, who was working for the National Organization for Marriage when he had a change of heart -- and deleted the organization's Facebook page. Marinelli's explanation sounds similar to Potter's: When he met protestors at a traditional marriage rally in Atlanta, he says, "the lesbian and gay people whom I made a profession out of opposing became real people for me almost instantly."
Potter and Marinelli, by the way, are both professing Christians who say their faith played a role in their about-face.
I have to ask: What were people who didn't even think of their opponents as "real people" doing in the public policy arena in the first place? The danger of that kind of thinking, on either side of any debate, cannot be overestimated. An argument that collapses the moment that the debater comes in contact with flesh-and-blood human beings, and realizes their humanity, is no argument at all. Even more important, no one should be attempting to influence policy without realizing how his or her words and actions will affect, yes, real people. That's just as true for Christians as it is for everyone else, if not more so.