Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Eating Chick-fil-A on Sundays

By Ernesto Alvarado

Chick-fila-A CEO Dan Cathy let his ideals and religious beliefs lead him away from standard business practices and into the limelight for changing the way a fast-food organization is run. If anyone that has ever eaten at Chick-fil-A has taken the time to read the information on the placemat right before they cover it with ketchup, you would know that unlike many other artery-clogging conglomerates, religion plays a prominent role in the company's business model.

If I were to let my differing points of view lead my appetite, I'd be one hungry fellow. 

Dan Cathy's admission that he does not support same-sex marriage comes to absolutely no surprise to me. The writing was on the wall from the point when the restaurant opted to pass on millions in revenue to close shop on Sundays. Why are we all surprised by his stance? I was more shocked by the fact that, unlike many of his counterparts, he openly admitted to his position rather than try to sugarcoat or dance around the issue. 

Same-sex marriage have won victory after victory recently and society seems to be finally catching up with the modern era. The LGBTI community has struggled to be included in various aspects of society and their legal right to marriage is one of their most sought-after goals. A new wave of well-spoken, articulate, socially active, and brave leaders have spearheaded the initiatives for the community and have shattered the perception that many Americans once held. Their outrage towards an individual is understandable and one can be confident that Chick-fil-A will lose more business to their religious beliefs apart from their Sunday closings. 

The same-sex marriage controversy has much more to contribute to society than a continued "yes-no" dialogue on equal marriage rights. It comes to no surprise that many in the LGBTI community will boycott the restaurant (I would too if some anti-Latino stance was put forth) but in the larger scheme of things this has the potential to make eating a sandwich at the restaurant a political statement. Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum wasted little time in taking their picture with a sandwich and parading around like the restaurant was some sort of Republican sanctuary from gay rights (and accordingly, the 21st Century). 

Dan Cathy's personal opinion on gay marriage and his contribution to causes against equal marriage are his right to hold. The LGBTI's community also hold the right to criticize and no longer eat at Chick-fil-A. This situation now poses the question of where morality coincides with a supply-demand market. Apple has been constantly defending its work practices after working conditions have been found to be horrific, Nike also worked extensively with low-wage labor and terrible working environments, Coke had a plethora of environmental violations across the planet and sweatshops across the world produce some of the high-end products on sale in retailers across the U.S. Outrage has been apparent with these companies as well but I can guarantee that many of the readers that take in the ink I am spilling right now have an Iphone right next to them. So where as consumers do we draw the line between moral differences and the desire/want/need to have a product? 

Ultimately condemning the head of an organization for their personal beliefs is as effective as reposting a 2012 Kony video on your social media outlets. If there is a burning desire and need to support the rights of the gay community, become involved in the movement and actively contribute to the cause in any way possible. Dan Cathy won't apologize for his actions and if he does, it will be to save face for his company. Nothing will change and his personal finances will still go to aid his own beliefs whether you buy that #6 or not. Of course there will be financial implications to Dan Cathy's moronic timing of his statements, but by condemning the restaurant and not the man, Chick-fil-A will become an unexpected point of reference for the Republicans to rally around and gain the attention that has eluded them since the movements they often oppose on moral grounds have gained traction. 

Dan Cathy's comments were disrespectful to a segment of society and he failed his social responsibility by publicly linking a personal idea to a company that serves the public. What needs to be taken out of this situation however, is that becoming socially active on an issue rather than boycotting an institution will eventually achieve the higher purpose of gay marriage rights. Getting angry at Chick-fil-A will not bring any progress but instead create another divisive platform for a political conversation that has fractionalized too many factions of society already. A company's role of corporate responsibility must be assessed and we must all look ourselves in the mirror in order to accurately determine where our morals stand and where we allow them to lead us in our regular lives. 

One is hard-pressed to think that a stance can be supported or protested by a sandwich. They are called beliefs because they aren't concrete, they are an amalgamation of ideas that come together to mold a person's viewpoint in the world. My ideals will never be the same as everyone else's (whether gay or not) and this becomes more likely when you include a devoutly religious person that is a top corporate official. They are a service provider and they work for my business. If they were to be offensive to me in any way, then the service relationship would be permanently severed. Not going to Chick-fil-A is a form of protest, but it is also a form of empowerment for the conservative and religious opposition of the gay marriage debate. I certainly won't eat there as much anymore and I will always keep in mind that my views differ from their higher ups. I won't, however, let politics determine things as mundane as my choice in chicken. Critical thinking over culinary cravings. 

Changing society through LGBTI's continued efforts is a possibility. 

Changing Dan Cathy's political and religious views is as possible as....eating Chick-fil-A on a Sunday. 

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