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On convictions and chicken

I have to warn you that I have a raging ear infection as I type. So raging that my doctor could only describe it as “moderate” in his attempts to recover from examining my ear canal with his little light thingy. So please excuse me for vomiting all of my thoughts out on this page in a Z-PAC and soon to be Tylenol PM induced stupor.

Sometimes I have said that being a mother isn’t the hardest job in the world, and other times I really want to retract my statement. I mean, the physical part isn’t that hard. Feed them. Clothe them. Play with them. Be nice to them. Turn on the Netflix for them.

But in just 7 short months since writing that post, I suppose my four year old twins have grown leaps and bounds, and now the idea of teaching them to be kind, compassionate, and loving, yet independent individuals is weighing heavily on my heart. Turns out that this is hard, y’all.

Also, I’m afraid that I will never be able to eat another waffle fry without hearing it’s little waffle fry voice taunting me with, “Gotcha, sucker! You only thought you had convictions!”

The waffle fries and the Boy Scouts have been on my mind lately because they’ve been all over the internets. Many Americans are giving up Chick Fil A and will never support the Boy Scouts due to their anti-gay sentiments and possible funding of anti-gay organizations. Yesterday several news stories were published that Chick Fil A president Dan Cathy admits to being against gay marriage (in a very round about way, if we’re being fair). And the Boy Scouts of America have been making headlines for upholding their policy of not allowing gay members.

Thank God the Chick Fil A story didn’t break on a Tuesday, because kids eat free, and that would have really destroyed my chances of getting out of making dinner. (kidding)

Also, all I could think about was my gay friend’s Facebook check in at Chick Fil A that he was “going to get some Christian chicken!” (I would say that’s irony, but The Oatmeal has me paranoid about saying anything is ironic.)

As I think about these organizations and these companies and the huge role they have played on so many lives and stomachs, I wonder…do I have the conviction to deny that group my business? Or more importantly, do I have the conviction to stick to my decision?

We’re not Chick Fil A fanatics. We have eaten there once in a while when we’re caught out running errands at meal time. We’ve long known that they were a company based on Christian values, and that’s great (hey-o, I’m a Christian too!). Did Cathy necessarily need to come out and say that he opposed gay marriage? Well, that’s his right as American, as long as he’s prepared for the potential backlash it could cause. I guess it’s better than lying about it when he’s pressed for an answer.

Concerning the Boy Scouts, I’m kinda glad that with my three girls, Scouts are already a little out of the question, since I heard they don’t let girls in either. But I do know a lot of people who are pulling their children from or will not let them join that organization because of this ruling (which to be fair and neutral, has always been the policy). I find it a bit of a shame that the Scouts are so discriminatory, since they seem to have played such a huge role in the lives of so many boys and young men. The young men who are being alienated likely need leadership and guidance more than a lot of the other boys.

The other day on the Twitter I caught a tweet from @TheNextMartha that said, “As long as the Boy Scouts ban gays, neither of my sons will be a part of that organization.”

So I asked her — genuinely — how she would address the situation if her boys really wanted to join because their friends were joining, and kids just want to do everything their friends want to do. I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason I joined the Girl Scouts in the fourth grade. And all in all, it ended up not being my schtick. I didn’t go on any of the camp outs, and I walked away with the one badge they give you just for showing up so your vest doesn’t look so damn empty. Honestly, I think it looked better empty than with one lonely patch, but whatever.

She responded that she explained to her older son that they didn’t admit everyone who wanted to join, and since that was a family value of theirs, they were not going to support that organization.

I thought her answer was aces, and I can’t wait to use it on my kids.

I asked her because as a parent, I don’t always think that quickly on my feet (unless I’m dealing with a kid who’s about to vomit, then I’m Mommy on the Spot). But I want my kids to know that when I believe in something, I believe in it with my whole heart, not just the part that isn’t hungry for a chicken sandwich today. I want them to know that I believe we should not hate or discriminate. Chick Fil A can quote as much scripture to me as they want, but I will never feel like it’s okay to show ill will towards someone because of their choice of partner.

I don’t consider myself a cynical person, and I don’t want my children growing up hearing my husband or I making derogatory statements towards another human being. A lot of hate starts at home, from children modeling the behaviors of their own parents. And the opposite holds true as well – my children will learn a great deal of their tolerance and acceptance of others from us.

And if they say, “But Mom, why do we support Big Time Company 123 if they are supporting something we’re against?” and I tell them that it’s just this once, or that our money is just a drop in the bucket and really doesn’t matter because Big Time Company 123 is not going to go out of business just because we stop going there, well…

How can I ever get them to believe that their vote matters?

Or how can I make them believe that they themselves can make a difference?

It’s easy to think that my contribution doesn’t matter, or that I can still model my preferences to my children while encouraging them to think critically and make their own decisions based on what their heart tells them. But they need to know that if we as human beings all have the right and the ability to take a stand for something we believe in — or something we don’t. And sometimes those standing on both sides of the issue need to have a little tolerance for each other.

It has to start here. Which means that I need to decide how I’m going to reply when we’re out and about and everyone’s hungry and hankering for some Christian chicken.

 

PS — My kids don’t even care. Their favorite thing from Chick Fil A is ketchup.

 

 

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Leigh Ann Torres
Writer, artist, wife, cook, maid, bookkeeper, mom to twins plus one...all around genie in a bottle, except you only get one wish, and it has to be reasonable.
20 Comments
  1. Great post. I never liked Chick-fil-A anyway because they use peanut oil, which leaves me out as a peanut-allergic person. So if they’re going to discriminate against me AND my gay friends, I don’t want their waffle fries. I don’t like chicken anyway. :)

    As for Boy Scouts, I love your friend’s answer. And I’m going to use that one too.

  2. Why does everyone think that if you don’t support gay marriage than you must hate gay people? The Boy Scout thing is very different, since they are specifically excluding people, but even then they have the right to do what they want and we have the freedom to choose to not be a part of it.

    • Vanessa, I don’t think that, and after a long Twitter conversation last night with someone, I actually went in and edited a line that probably gave that impression. That was not my intention. Tolerance does not equal acceptance or approval, and it was a poor choice of words.

      I completely agree that they BS (ha!) have a right to do what they want, as do we have the right to choose not to be a part of it. I guess what sucks is that some people have no choice based on that policy.

  3. If I make a choice to not do something, join something or eat somewhere, I’ll tell my children why but I will allow them to make their own choices. I’m hard pressed against Chik and the Scouts ( sadly since all my brothers were one) for many of the same reasons as yours. When asked by my kids why I choose to boycott, it’ll because I want them to feel they are always free to be themselves.

    • My husband was a Boy Scout too and if we had boys, I don’t think I could convince him to boycott them. but I think explaining and allowing them to choose is the perfect route to take.

  4. I think the boy scouts are different than chick a fil because the scouts are actively discriminating. Not eating at chik would mean I’d have to find out the stands on many issues of every CEO to see if I could go eat, get health care, etc from there. I don’t want everyone to think exactly like me – I just want them to stop actively hurting others.
    Ps. My husband says chik had hiring practices which were discriminatory. That’s different than just an opinion. Now a donation is that gray area although I did boycott target for awhile a few years ago.
    Pps. My kids would understand why in a heartbeat. l(http://www.lateenough.com/2012/02/love-is-love/)

    • That is such a heartwarming post, and I love it.

      They are two different situations, and they just happened to come up at the same time. if it sounds like I’m lumping them together, that wasn’t my intention. My husband and I had a discussion about this too and mentioned how it would be totally different if they came out and said that they did have discriminatory hiring practices or worse — refused to serve certain people (which would likely not happen, but still).

  5. Thank gawd we have no interest in Boy Scouts and we don’t have Chick-A-Whatever in Canada. I wonder if the Air Cadets are the same – I think that’s the only thing my hubs would be interested in.

    These issues exhaust me and I just want to scream from the top of a mountain with a giant megaphone, “IT’S 2012, GET THE FARK OVER YOURSELVES.”

  6. Thank you! I agree with much of your post, I don’t have to worry about the BSA with 2 girls….the Chik issue has been kind of wiggling around in the back of my brain. My opinion on these issues is generally in the minority where I live (small, bible minded community where most people are comfortable using pre-civilized terms for anyone who is not WASP-ish). Talk about eternal struggle, grew up in a large diverse city and while my current neighbors/friends and I agree on a lot of things, I am just now finding the convictions to stand up for my own believe strongly enough to make sure that my girls “get it”.

    • I have a relatively conservative family as well, and even my husband falls on the more conservative side than I do. It’s hard!

  7. Oh my sweetness I love this!! More than you could ever know! Way to use that voice!!!!!!

  8. I love this post. I read it late last night while laying in bed trying to fall asleep (that sounds creepy, when put that way, but I swear it’s not!), and it inspired me to finally write my own thoughts on this matter. Mind if I link to your post about the point you raised with teaching your kids how their vote counts?

  9. Great post Leigh Ann. I respect your opinion, but we are going to have to agree to disagree on the CFA issue. I actually admire Mr Cathy for standing by HIS convictions. I don’t think he is being intolerant or trying to alienate anyone, he is just defending what the bible says. And I think a lot of the business lost over his comments will be compensated for by Christians that support his views. I certainly will not allow my children to be intolerant or judgmental about anyone or their personal choices, but they will understand God’s word and hopefully they will defend it when challenged as Mr Cathy has.

    • I agree — that’s his right as an American, and very admirable of him to say so in a public forum. I’m not attacking the company or the person for what they defend unless it makes its way into their hiring practices and employee relations (which is rumored, but I don’t know). We all have the right to choose what we want to support and not support, and I’m not saying that anyone who is against gay marriage is automatically a judgmental, intolerant boob.

      This post is less about Mr Cathy or the Boy Scouts and more about ME — about my struggles to figure out where I draw the line on my own convictions and standing up for what I feel is wrong or right. And I still don’t think I’ve figured it out.

  10. It’s tough. We have to figure out the delicate balance between supporting what we believe and being tolerant and accepting of those that don’t believe the same. And it becomes even more critical when we have young impressionable minds looking to us to set the example. So it’s great that you are being so thoughtful and cautious about what that example should be. Love you!

  11. Wow–such an honest and brave post. I’m not bold enough to blog about some of these harder decisions. Maybe one day. Even a few weeks ago when I blogged about whether parents need to go to EVERY one of their kids’ games it sent members of my extended family into a tailspin of opinions (all shared with me, of course). Not sure I can stand it on something heavier. But maybe I should have thought of that before becoming a blogger. Oy vey.

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