Remember last summer’s hand-wringing over Chick-fil-A? People were lining up to boycott or support the fast food chain over their approach to gay people. Everybody was weighing in. Leaders on both sides were making statements and people were falling in line.
Turns out something deeper was going on. Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy reached out to Shane Windmeyer, an outspoken LGBT leader and executive director of Campus Pride, one of the organizations urging people to boycott Chick-fil-A. While everyone else was slinging hate over chicken sandwiches, Dan and Shane were having a conversation.
Shane wrote about that relationship on Huffington Post yesterday, explaining why his organization was dropping their boycott.
It reads like a how-to manual for conflict:
We learned about each other as people with opposing views, not as opposing people.
It’s an incredible story that’s way better than last year’s drama-filled headlines. As our churches continue to deal with difficult and controversial issues, let’s take a page from how Dan Cathy and Shane Windmeyer dealt with this one. A few quick lessons:
- This was no PR stunt. This was about patiently moving forward together, not scoring some better headlines.
- Consider the guts this took on both sides. Sitting down to get to know your enemy is not how things are done these days.
- Imagine the long term good that can come from this. Windmeyer has been working on this boycott for a decade (?!).
- Sometimes a quiet, behind-the-scenes effort is more effective than any damage control.
- It’s easy to respond in anger, to focus on hate, to emphasize how you’ve been wronged. It’s harder to sit down together with mutual respect and understanding. A lot harder.