As most have heard, Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, made some comments during an interview that he and the company believe in “the biblical definition of marriage” meaning they oppose gay marriage.
I support Cathy’s right to believe in what he calls “the biblical definition of marriage.” After all, this is America and the constitution gives us freedom of religion.
And I support Cathy stating publicly what he believes… after all, our constitution gives us freedom of speech.
With freedom of speech it’s a given that sometimes people will be hurt by what others say. And that’s what happened and there’s been a big reaction. Suddenly we find ourselves in an interesting place. As Conan O’Brien tweeted,
“It’s hard to believe that the greatest division
in American politics these days is “pro-“ or “anti-Chick-fil-A.”
Along with those beliefs, Chick-fil-A also donated money to organizations that oppose gay marriage, so some are calling for a boycot of Chick-fil-A and others are eating there more than ever. Since I don’t eat chicken and I rarely eat fast food, I’ve never eaten at Chick-fil-A (yes, imagine that, it is possible to live without waffle fries and chicken sandwiches) so deciding whether to eat there now is not an issue for me.
But I do understand the concern about having our money going to fund things we do or don’t agree with. Though in reality, it’s impossible to know where our money goes to with many purchases we make—the gas I use in my car could come from a country where women aren’t even allowed to drive—so we each need to do what we are comfortable with concerning where we spend our money.
Along with all that, a few mayors made threatening comments about not allowing Chick-fil-A to open restaurants in their cities, which was stupid. A mayor (nor anyone else) has any right making decisions like that based on anyone’s religious beliefs.
So in some ways, I think there’s been an overreaction to Cathy’s comments. Would people have responded in the same way if he would have come out and said that he believes in the biblical definition of how to treat foreigners? Or what about believing in the biblical definition of divorce? (btw… just like marriage, neither of them has one specific biblical definition).
But in another way the reaction doesn’t surprise me,
due to the history of pain about this issue and due to the recent pain
many experienced when laws to provide marriage equality didn’t pass.
As I was finding my way out of a dark vortex of depression following severe trauma from an accident, I learned that feelings can accumulate. My injuries caused me excruciating amounts of pain, so I assumed that future minor pain wouldn’t bother me. I figured I wouldn’t even flinch if I got a paper cut or a bee string in the future.
But it didn’t work that way, especially during the first few years post-accident. Every little pain hurt like hell, which was frustrating and sometimes sent me a few steps back into depression. I wondered what my problem was until my counselor taught me that pain can accumulate which can cause minor pains to be magnified. Because I had experienced so much pain, any little pain sent my pain-o-meter over the top.
I was relieved to know that I wasn’t
turning into a super-wimp, but that my body
needed extra love and kindness due to all it had been through.
So I couldn’t help but wonder if this strong reaction could be because everyone’s tolerance level had reached its capacity. Could it be because there has been so much discrimination and previous intolerance that Cathy’s remarks sent people’s tolerance-o-meter over the top?
And just like I needed to respect my pain and be extra kind to my body due to all the wounds I had, I wondered if extra care and kindness would be considerate in this situation, due to all the wounds people who are gay have faced.
To check my assumptions, I asked a few friends who are gay what their thoughts are about this shake-up. Their personal level of offense was minimal, because they respect the rights of others to believe what they wish, so they all agreed that Cathy is entitled to his own beliefs and he has the right to voice them.
But they are all tired… tired of not being respected for who they are, tired of the wounds they have endured and tired of shakeups like these, which add salt to those wounds. They aren’t asking for special treatment, but they are tired of not getting equal respect.
For those of you thinking the reaction has been over the top…
Could we all take a moment to think about pain and wounds… and love?
Love is kind. So since a large portion of this reaction is coming from a place of injury, wouldn’t love and kindness would be more beneficial than ignoring or dismissing the concerns? After all, it is kind to recognize and acknowledge the pain others feel.
When I was dealing with pain, the worse thing was having people minimize or dismiss my pain… which was done in various ways from telling me about someone who has worse pain to reminding me that I should be grateful because I survived life-threatening injuries to telling me there is a plan for all this pain and that I’m a better person because of it. (while there may be some truth in some of those thoughts, that’s not what I needed to hear at that time)
The kindest thing people could say was something like… I’m sorry.
This sucks. How are you coping with all this? What can I do to help?
In light of that… could we all consider asking people who are gay how they feel and listen to what they are saying. Can we acknowledge their struggle and pain without judging them?
The people most likely to dismiss my pain were people who have not dealt with severe pain, so will we recognize that if we haven’t dealt with what it feels like to have who we are criticized, judged and marginalized, we don’t know what it feels like?
Will we attempt to recognize this oversized reaction is about so much more than chicken and waffle fries as Conon Gaughan wrote about in his piece We are not Arguing Over Chicken.
To all my readers, will we treat others as we want to be treated?
And what do you think about Dan Cathy’s comments and the shakeup that followed? And how are you dealing with it all?
And to my readers who are gay… I’m sorry for the pain you had and continue to have. That sucks. What can I do to help?