Jay and his wife, Danette, took me to breakfast yesterday. Danette mentioned that they were going to watch a fight Sunday, caught herself, and apologized to Jay for telling me something that maybe she shouldn’t have. He told her that I already knew he was "not your usual yoga teacher,” and explained that Danette was referring to extreme fighting, and that they watch it on pay-per-view. All I know of extreme fighting is that it consists of putting two men in a cage in a combination boxing match, wrestling event, martial arts contest, and barroom brawl. The fight ends when one man is too injured to continue.
I have a problem with my yoga teacher taking pleasure in such an event, and I have a bigger problem with him watching it regularly and paying to support it. But then is it reasonable for me to care about the ethics of my yoga instructor (president, mail carrier, etc.)? So what if he enjoys violence—or kiddie porn for that matter—as long as he is a good teacher? My every relationship implies that I have weighed the good against the bad, and found in favor of the good.
I don’t know if I will find Jay’s behavior sufficiently offensive to change studios, but I suspect I will, as I have noted that I progress through six steps in regard to behavior that troubles me. First, I feel shocked. Second, I try to understand why the person might do such a thing. Third, I wonder if I am blowing the situation out of proportion. Fourth, I remind myself that no one is perfect, people interpret events differently, and what looks to me like a pattern of ethical failure might turn out to be a fleeting phase. Fifth, the problem continues to bother me. Sixth, I give up on the relationship.
Something that greatly bothers me today seldom bothers me less tomorrow. This only leaves the alternative of changing the way the other person looks at his behavior, and I rarely attempt that. In this case, I doubt that I could offer any objection to extreme fighting that Jay is unaware of, and I would anticipate alienating him by discussing it. It therefore seems preferable to break ties gracefully. If I decide to leave his studio, there are many reasons I might offer that would be less truthful, yet also less damaging. I do not believe in being truthful in the absence of any good that I imagine coming from it.