This past Wednesday was designated “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” by some who wanted to show their support for the fast food chain. I may or may not have eaten at Chick-Fil-A on Wednesday. Frankly, where I eat is not really a matter for social media, at least not to me. Social media was lit up with all kinds of comments on both sides of this whole debacle over Chick-Fil-A and the comments made by their president, Dan Cathy. It looks like people enjoyed their meals but I was a bit confused by some of the comments that were made, even the ones that were as simple as, “I ate at Chick-Fil-A.”
There are a few things that trouble me on every side of this issue, the first of which is consistency. There are many people who have cried out for boycotts against Chick-Fil-A because they see them as intolerant and bigoted for simply stating their convictions. Having read Cathy’s comments, I got no sense at all that Cathy was indicating that he would not hire or serve anyone whose viewpoints or lifestyle differed from his, he was simply stating his beliefs and convictions about marriage. That being said, while I was not surprised at such a strong outcry against Chick-Fil-A, I was fairly disappointed. In regards to consistency, I just wonder if everyone always checks to make sure that they agree with all of the beliefs and convictions of every company that they support.
My experience is that we are not a nation or even a generation of allegiance. Brand loyalty is not nearly as strong today as it once was. Nowadays, it seems to be wherever the better deal or service can be had that draws people. I look at a company like Amazon.com who has been criticized for their business plan and the way that some of their workers have been treated. I have read articles that claim that they have been less than hospitable to workers who had health issues or problems, firing them without any kind of safety net beneath them. Have the good people who have seen fit to boycott Chick-Fil-A researched the companies that they support well enough to know that they do not support anything that runs contrary to their own beliefs and viewpoints?
On the opposite side of the debate are those who felt strongly enough to support Chick-Fil-A on Wednesday. Other than friends who I spent time with and my own family, no one else is aware of where I ate my meals on Wednesday. In fact, I was intentional about not putting anything on social media because it just wasn’t about that to me. Had I eaten at Chick-Fil-A and then posted on Facebook that I had eaten there, what would I have been saying to all of my friends with whom I disagree? Would I be inviting them to engage in a dialogue with me about our differing viewpoints or would I simply be throwing the gauntlet and drawing the line in the sand, potentially creating an uncomfortable barrier between me and people whom I care about, regardless of our differing opinions?
This is the thing that has been troubling me beyond just this latest travesty, the lack of conversation that can take place. Even the gentleman whose interview with Dan Cathy created this firestorm agrees that what needs to happen more than anything is for people to come together and realize that there are people on the other side of the debate. His words speak loudly to me, “I am highly skeptical that either side in the marriage debate, or any other social or political debate for that matter, will change the others position. However, I am quite certain that it is difficult to be angry with or accuse one of bigotry while conversing over coffee.” (If you care to read his entire article, it can be found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ken-coleman/redefining-tolerance-chick-fil-a_b_1711677.html)
In this day and age of digital communication, it’s too easy to lob “grenades” through the expansive space called the internet. I realize that there is an irony to that statement considering the medium in which this writing comes to you, but I do my best to make sure that generalizations are limited and thought-provoking statements or questions are more abundant here on my blog.
I can’t help but wonder what the intention of each side of this debate seems to be. I’m pretty sure that it’s not really about equal rights for chickens or even the rights of fast food chains to make people fat. I wonder if there is a difference in standing firm in one’s convictions and flaunting your beliefs. It seems that there should be a distinction to me, a distinction which may result in more amiable outcomes.
I am not naïve, I fully understand that digital grenades will continue to be hurled, but I have the option of not taking part in that. I can choose to do my best to stand against hypocrisy. If I boycott one company for their contrary beliefs, I should be consistent and boycott others whose beliefs run contrary to mine. If I am not willing to do that, I should probably just keep my mouth shut and share my convictions when asked or when they are truly in jeopardy of being taken from me.
I believe in Jesus Christ and I am convicted to live a life of obedience to Him and what I am called to through His Word. I also believe Peter’s words in 1 Peter 3:15-17, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” That being said, my goal is to live in such a way as to have those around me, whose convictions may differ from my own, take notice of how I live my life in hopes that they might question me, giving me opportunity to share my own convictions, not with hostility and judgment, but with love, concern, and compassion.