Friday, July 27, 2012

I Shrug My Shoulders


I’ve been reading through all the grousing posts my Facebook friends have been writing about the Chick-fil-A gay marriage flap, and I’ve resisted the urge to comment on either side. My conservative friends are having a fit to support the chicken joint, and my liberal friends are having a fit protesting it. Both sides feel morally compelled and indignant. I feel compelled just to speak my piece about this whole thing. So…

I support the cause of marriage equality. I believe gay couples should be granted the right to be married by their individual states. Allowing gay marriage doesn’t weaken the institution as we know it these days—heterosexual couples have done a pretty good job of that on our own. And it doesn't threaten a conservative Christian's understanding of a God-based covenant any more than the marriage of atheists or Hindus or Buddhists does.

I also support the cause of free speech, and if a guy who owns a national chain of fast-food restaurants wants to say publicly that he believes in a traditional view of marriage—limiting the understanding of “tradition” only as far as 17th-century Europe and no broader—then so be it. And for that matter, if Facebook wants to take down Mike Huckabee’s Chick-fil-A support page for a few hours, then cheers to them as a business with the same free-speech rights.

It disturbs me that the minute a business spokesperson says something about a controversial issue, we have to pick sides with black-and-white vehemence, either for or against. For my part, I think a reasonable response might be a simple shoulder shrug.

So what if Cathy follows his conservative Christian line of thinking to the point of being against gay marriage and if his business puts a boat load of money toward fighting it. What does boycotting his business serve? Will he change his mind if enough people stop patronizing his stores? Will not spending a few bucks on a soggy chicken sandwich in a foil pouch keep the rest of us from fraying the edges of our own moral code?

The closest Chick-fil-A to my house is about 30 miles, and I guess I spend about $25 there in the average year, not being one for fast food joints except in the case of food emergencies. So, I’m not concerned that my little bit of cash might be used toward fighting a cause I actually support. I give a heck of a lot more money than that to state and federal taxes, and I’m more bothered by the fact I am contributing to wars and policies and subsidies I don’t support.

I have a dear friend who works for a Cathy foundation, and she is a political, social and religious conservative. I suspect she was proud of her boss for his public stance that he knew was going to kick up a dust storm. (Has it occurred to anyone that Cathy might have been so bold because he knew his conservative supporters would rally around his business and “eat more chicken" and not because it was important to him to speak up out of moral conviction?)

If I, as a supporter of gay marriage, am expected to boycott a business on the other side of the issue, am I also expected to cut ties with my friend who lands on that same opposing side? She used to own her own business where I was a frequent customer. Maybe I shouldn’t have spent my money there because she might have been donating to a cause I disagreed with. Maybe I should stop communicating with her altogether now and disown her even on Facebook. Unsubscribing from her posts isn’t enough, ohmygoodness, and I should go as far as unfriending her completely!

But this friend of mine loves me, and I her.. She and I have held each other up through some very difficult circumstances, and despite our differences, our bond is a strong one. So, doesn’t it seem ridiculous to end a friendship over opposing opinions? And then doesn’t it seem ridiculous to only develop relationships with people who agree with me on all points on my issues check list?

It seems equally ridiculous to me to only do business with organizations whose spokespeople have opinions lining up with mine. We cannot agree with everything that goes on around us, and if we only surround ourselves with people and entities who share our opinions 100 percent, we’re each left standing on a square-foot of land with no interaction between us.

I will not be “eating more chicken” to support Chick-fil-A, nor will I be eating less. They are what they are, of little consequence, and I prefer to reserve my grand reactions to seriously grand issues. Marriage equality is pretty grand, I think, but what a fast-food joint thinks about it isn’t.

1 comment:

Maria said...

I have never eaten at that establishment and no, now I never will. My right, yes. And I agree with most of your comments to a certain point.

I do have a problem with your question as to whether this man would change his views if enough people stopped eating at his establishment. No, I don't believe he would change his views. Yes, I do believe he might be less inclined to spout them if his business suffers and that works for me.

I've watched coverage of this event and personally find it a little repulsive to see all the so called Christians preening in front of the camera and screaming. Those protesting seem quieter and that relieves me.

Personally, I think it was all a gigantic antic to drum up more business.

I think we all need to hear the other side of every story. One of my favorite co-workers is Betsy, our office manager. She belongs to a church that condemns homosexuality. We had already began to lay down the tracks of a beautiful friendship before she found out that I lived with a woman and I found out what church she belonged to. We both a bit shell shocked, I think. But...we've talked about it and agree that nothing is going to stop our friendship and maybe, just maybe we can learn from each other.

I think this makes more sense than all the hoopla about a chicken fast food restaurant and is far more defining of most Americans.