This week Chick-fil-A founder, S. Truett Cathy, passed away. For me Chick-fil-A represents a welcomed option to take my almost four-year-old son for a more than decent meal that both he and I will enjoy. And in most of their restaurants, he can expend some of his unlimited energy in their playground. For this I am also grateful.
But for many others, Chick-fil-A represents hatred and intolerance. You will remember the national coverage that Chick-fil-A received a couple of years ago after some comments CEO Dan Cathy made about their stance on marriage. The Cathy family hold deeply to the conviction that the biblical intent for marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
This view of marriage along with reported organizations supported by the Cathy foundation, WinShape, revealing seemed to, and continues to, fuel a hot social debate.
You don’t have to look far to find articles written espousing one view or another followed by pages of vitriolic comments hurled at other readers who simply hold to different beliefs and convictions.
In the midst of the social outcry a couple of years ago, this article, Dan and Me: My Coming Out as a Friend of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A, written by Shana L. Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride caught my attention.
What caught my attention is how Mr. Windmeyer portrayed Mr. Cathy’s deep unwavering convictions. Over and over, My Windmeyer reassures his readers that his just as deeply held convictions were not changing. But, he learned to respect someone whose views were diametrically opposed to his own.
In reading this article, I learned a few things from Mr. Cathy about deeply held convictions.
What can Dan Cathy teach us about conviction?
Don’t back away from your convictions especially when facing opposition.
Obviously the Cathy family and Chick-fil-A still to this day face criticism for the strong stance they hold on traditional, “biblical” marriage. Yet, they don’t apologize or change their stance to increase sales or avoid conflict.
All people deserve to be treated with respect regardless of their beliefs or lifestyle.
Mr. Cathy called Mr. Windmeyer in 2012, not to rip him to shreds for the campaign against Chick-fil-A. Instead Mr. Cathy treated Mr. Windmeyer with “kindness and openness”.
In 2013, Chick-fil-A released a statement that included this comment— “Our intent is to not support political or social agendas. This has been the case for more than 60 years. The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect and to serve great food with genuine hospitality.”
Our convictions don’t need to prevent us from knowing people with opposing views.
The hate speech usually flows from mouths who don’t take the time to get to know other people with opposing views. Instead they become adversaries or opposing people.
When the faceless adversary becomes someone who has a name, loved ones, fears and ambitions, the hatred or fear begins to fall away.
Welcome a person with an opposing view or conviction into your own convictions.
Learn to overcome fear and awkwardness by participating in mutual dialogue and finding a way to respect each other.
This doesn’t mean that I have to be best buddies or by any means forfeit or soften my own convictions. It just means I can allow someone with a different mindset or worldview into my world.
Allow God to be the judge.
I glean this indirectly by how Dan Cathy handles the relations with Mr Windmeyer. I can hold onto my convictions and allow another to hold onto theirs no matter how different. And let God be the judge of us both.
What about you? Tell me of a time you sat down with someone who had different convictions with you?