I typically don’t do this.
I’m not a lightning rod nor do I wish to be. But something has taken place in our society and culture that I believe will shape us for decades to come. It’s something that will change us as a nation and will have a direct impact on your family. Of course I’m talking about . . .
Unless you live under a rock or without any access to any news source, you know that our nation has been embroiled in this highly charged and public debate over gay marriage. This particular situation really got hot in July of this year when Chick-Fil-A’s president Dan Cathy said, “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
Once this quote and a few others hit the AP wire all hell broke loose. A flood of posts and comments on Twitter and Facebook started the rumor mill flying about what was really said and before you know it all of a sudden Chick-Fil-A became a homophobic, anti-gay, racist, blah blah blah. Add to the all of that the mayors of Chicago and Boston coming out against a food chain that sells chicken and then add to that Mike Huckabee and you have CFA day on August 1, 2012.
Yesterday, all across the country CFA’s were packed for hours, some to the point of actually running out of food to serve to all the multitudes of people. I did not eat at CFA on 8/1 but was able to get really prompt service at another local restaurant because of the lack of patrons there (I think everyone else was at Chick-Fil-A).
Then add to ALL of that, the LGBT community is planning its own “Kiss-in” protest on Friday (which will have occurred by the time this goes to press) and we have the making of a real big mess!
Some of you that actually know me might think that I would support Chick-Fil-A in their stance of marriage and some of you would be wrong. That’s the problem with what’s happening. I support Chick-Fil-A not because they believe this way or that way but because they make a really good chicken sandwich and the fact that we live in a FREE country!
In the past two days I have had coffee at Starbucks not because they support gay rights but because I really like their coffee. Does this mean that I must subscribe to the views of whatever establishment I choose to eat or drink in?
At what point in our culture did it become ok to ban anyone because of an opinion? And at what point in our country’s history has it been ok to ban an establishment from entire cities because of a belief held by a corporate president?
There are two main problems with this debate. One is a misunderstanding of what this is really about and one that directly impacts your children and the nation they will inherit from us. Let’s start with the first issue: Gay marriage.
This controversy is NOT about gay marriage, although both the left and the right have hijacked the discussion and labeled it as such. The reality is that this is a free speech issue. Do you and I have the right as American citizens to espouse to whatever belief system we choose? Do you and I have the right as American citizens to express those beliefs and opinions free from the worry of persecution? Ummm yes! If we don’t then there can be no public or private discourse.
This very idea, this founding principle upon which our nation rests is a brilliant idea and was one of the many reasons that we stood as a beacon to the world for much of our history. But recently we have plunged into a sea of stupidity and I fear that we may drown in it.
Whether I agree with CFA or its president is not the question or the issue at all. The real issue is whether I believe if that man can express his beliefs in this country and yes he can. He has every bit as much right to that opinion as the Starbucks executive does. It doesn’t matter that they come down on opposite sides of the debate, but it does matter that they can come down on any issue in any way they choose.
I don’t understand why we as a society want our food/clothing/beverage/car etc. companies to proclaim one way or the other about anything but here we are. And because we’ve decided we need them to, are we really surprised at the outcome?
If Taco Bell decides to come out in favor of cow marriages it won’t make me stop eating there. I stopped eating there a long time ago because I don’t like their food!
The second issue that will directly impact your children and their future is how to have a dialogue or discourse or debate or argument without yelling from opposite sides of the isle. What will our government look like if this is the new way to argue? Is the winner the one who first declares themselves offended? Is the winner the one who can yell the loudest over the throngs of angry protesters? No one wins in this new norm.
And who can we blame? I blame us. I blame our insatiable need for a 24-hour news cycle. I blame our desire to be entertained by talking heads on news affiliates and channels that should be informing but instead are inflaming. I blame our lust for celebrity and controversy and drama. I blame us.
When my daughter asks me what the hubbub is about, I will sit down and explain to her what happened and then have a conversation. I want her to ask hard questions and learn to think for herself. I want her to look to us for guidance and advice on how she should look at the world. I want her to understand that not everyone will think or believe as she does and that’s ok. It does not mean that she or the other person is any less of a human being and that she or the other person is still deserving of the same respect and honor, not because they agree, but because they are human!
If we don’t teach our children how to have a civil discourse with people that don’t agree we will become a nation even more divided than red states and blue states. We will become a people that lose that beautiful idea that we are free to hold to our beliefs and opinions and that the person on the other side is as well. If we lose that we lose ourselves!
I may not agree with you but I will fight to my death for your right to disagree with me and I would hope that you would do the same. If we can pass that on to our children and if we can start living that out then maybe, just maybe that will be our life raft out of this sea.
But then again, this is just my opinion. You may not agree with it but guess what? That’s ok!