So far, I’ve tried to stay out of the Chick-fil-A debate, an endeavor which has been largely successful. I’ve posted a few comments on friends’ Facebook statuses, but I’ve otherwise remained quiet. I don’t have much to say that hasn’t been said, usually far better than I could have.
I’m breaking my vow of silence today.
I have to be honest here. I don’t live anywhere near a Chick-fil-A. I’ve never eaten at one. I don’t see myself eating there in the near future, not because I’m protesting, but because it’s not likely we will be visiting a city that has one. I could easily make a promise never to eat there and keep it. In a literal sense, my refusal to eat there would have zero impact on the company. This is not a statement of my belief that my actions carry no weight; it’s a statement of the fact that Chick-fil-A is already not getting my money.
For me, this raises a larger concern. In what ways am I responsible for supporting businesses that fund organizations I find distasteful? Because no matter what I do, there is always that potential. Even if I choose to shop at the local grocery store, my purchase helps pay someone’s salary. That person could be a secret member of a hate group; donating to an anti-LGBT organization; buying electronics with illegally obtained parts. That employee could be voting in a way that I don’t like. That employee might even have participated in a hate crime and was never apprehended.
I realize that it’s an imperfect analogy. I don’t know what store employees do or don’t do with their money, while I know for certain what Dan Cathy does with his. My point, though, is that it isn’t enough to declare that I will never frequent businesses that use their money in ways I would not choose. It’s not enough to protest, online or at the restaurant’s door. No matter how hard I try, there is no way to be certain my money goes only to the places I want it to go.
Instead, I actually have to live my life in such a way that I show ordinary, everyday love to my LGBT brothers and sisters. I must personally demonstrate my support in the lives of individuals. Because behind the collective that many people imagine, there are real human beings. My LGBT friends and family are not my “cause.” I’m not the powerful protector who is responsible for doling out their rights, as though I’m still somehow superior.
Instead of making an empty promise not to eat at Chick-fil-A for the rest of my life or until Dan Cathy retires/changes his stance, I’m choosing to humbly serve. I’m choosing to ask my LGBT loved ones, “How can I be a friend today?” I’m wiling to bet that they will tell me. And maybe, just maybe, that will be enough.