Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Blessing of Growth

I happened upon an article this morning on Huffington Post…written by Shane L. Windmeyer, the founder and executive director of Campus Pride. His organization advanced the national campaign against Chick-fil-A.  The article is entitled Dan and Me: My Coming Out as a Friend of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A

I haven’t cared much for Dan Cathy since the firestorm a few months ago…..when Chick-fil-A became the unwitting symbol for the fight to save traditional marriage….I mean the right of free speech.  Uh-huh…... 

I was more than a bit put off by all the Christians, who stood in line for hours, called to action by Sean Hannity, to demonstrate their support for free speech by buying a Chick-Fil-A sandwich. Let’s just say, I strongly suspect that the motive of most of the people who stood in those long lines was to make an anti gay rights statement. I don’t think it was about free speech.  

So I didn’t care much for him….or his views….or his values….or his monetary contributions to what some would consider hate groups. 

So I was surprised….convicted….and then encouraged by the article this morning on Huffington Post.  It’s an example of how folks who hold almost polar opposite world views can sit down and have a civil conversation, showing each other mutual respect.  And in doing so they can actually find common ground and opportunities to grow and make the world a better place. 

Dan Cathy called it the “blessing of growth.”

There were numerous cynical, sarcastic comments in response to the article, coming from both sides of the gay rights divide. There was still mud slinging and hate; the “gay guys” didn’t want to give an inch to the “religious bigots” and visa versa.  There were charges of selling out, settling, hypocrisy. From both sides.   

Some people only want to hang on to their world view and beliefs….demonizing the other guy. As long as we are demonizing the other guy, real change and the blessing of growth is very elusive. 

I have to point out that this type of conversation only seems to work when both sides want it to work.  If the agenda is to BE understood rather than to UNDERSTAND….if the agenda is to convince, talk over, debate…..this type of conversation cannot accomplish much.

Some people do not want to understand or extend a hand in friendship. Some people simply want to be right. 

Evangelical Christians are multi dimensional creatures…..and like gay people cannot be defined through an isolated lens.

The world does not need more enemies….it needs more unlikely friendships like these two guys, more open dialogue, more understanding, less hate and intolerance.

I am reminded of the quote by Abraham Lincoln

The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.

And a bonus quote from Martin Luther King

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.