The greatest inequality since Jim Crow Laws takes place today - right under our noses. In the legal system, this discrimination exists subtlety, but in social interaction it rears its ugly head. Fag. If you live in the south, you probably know this word well. It is amazing how much emotion it can elicit - the anger, hate, and sorrow. Other words in the English language also reveal our deep-rooted prejudice. “Gay” has become synonymous with “bad”. People talk about homosexuals “overwhelming” a town like a pest. Some highschoolers avoid accusations by quickly flashing “no homo” across the conversation. And as a result of all this, their peers commit suicide.
Local laws also contribute to the hate. Thanks to these, a homosexual couple cannot sit in a restaurant without knowing at any time it could be forced out the door. Gays can’t save a lover from cancer by sharing insurance. They can’t adopt, attend prom together, or hold each others’ hands in public.
Despite these conditions, I find little opposition. It seems like people are too scared or too cautious to stand up for acceptance, and between those who I would expect to fight for progress I find argument, not collaboration. To explain this disorder, we must look far into the past. Here I found one man with all the answers.
The German philosopher Hegel began a transition of thought. Before him, the Romantics had thought about metaphysics and a universal “spirit”. As suicide proved to be the only tangible result of this pursuit, thinkers became frustrated and yearned for a more pragmatic academia. Hegel laid a foundation for this new field with his theory of social development. In the process, he set the conditions for great thinkers like Marx and Kierkegaard.
Hegel compared social development to a river. First, realize that people’s attitude depends almost entirely on their location in the stream - although a westerner might assert that the hijab depresses woman’s rights, he would have the contrary set of assumptions were he born in a Middle Eastern country. Muslims think (and not irrationally) that the hijab diminishes lustful temptation. They simply have a different mindset, one that places chastity/modesty above fashion-freedom in their hierarchy of values.
If we imagine that a civilization lies on a point in the river, the physical surroundings at this area would be analogous to social conditions. These factors determine how the water will flow in the future. By studying the history of the river, we also can gleam what caused the factors - how a previous stretch of downhill turf sent the water running, or a patch a loose gravel made the walls thick.
Hegel said that a process of diametric opposition powers this metaphorical river. Debates cannot exist without two parties who disagree. If conversations did not have this vital attribute, they would merely enforce beliefs and huddle within comfort zones. Discussion makes much more progress when two extremes clash, the weak points of each crumpling and leaving as the only survivor the best attributes of both. Because of the conditions at his point in the river, Hegel believed in male supremacy; he often wrote about this issue and abashed feminist uprisings. While one might detest Hegel for this, realize that without him bringing attention to the matter, women would have been less receptive. As Zizek states, truly the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves and thus held them in chains, satisfied with the rights of a pet. Only through conflict (although not necessarily violence) can the attention necessary for change be gained.
Hegel spoke of the river becoming aware of itself; he thought that people would eventually begin to consider their role in progress, wishing to transcend it. Today, many already study the history of the river and try to predict how the water will run. Although this might seem beneficial, I think it has actually interfered.
The defining characteristic of the river is its spontaneity. In the same manner that species competed and evolved without any transcendent intention, society will continue to mature into utopia if not interrupted by over-thinking. As a teenager I had always wanted to oversee my development out of adolescence, but when my intelligence squared it found that its conductor was indeed just another teenager. Nothing can change in itself. Growth thus necessitates a sort of passivity and humbleness; we must let go, give chance a turn, and have trust in the natural progression towards maturity. Anything else is but a forced replication.
You need not look far on Facebook to find heated debates about Chick Fil’ A. Most of the arguers support gay acceptance, but they seem broken and unorganized; amongst the tangle of accusations about bandwagon-jumping and contrarianism, these people bicker back and forth over how to reach equality. No one wants to make a splash in the pond. Everyone wishes to remain quiet and logical and respectable, carefully choosing a path instead of going with the flow (as if they knew better!).
While the CEO of Chick Fil’ A has expressed his opposition to same sex marriage, this does not necessarily make the restaurant anti-gay. As a separate corporate entity, Chick Fil’ A exists independently from Dan Cathy’s thoughts. We should therefore assign guilt only through considering the business and its actions. It is true that Chick Fil’ A made significant donations to organizations such as the Marriage & Family Legacy Fund, but these constitute no direct attack on same sex union; while they support heterosexual marriages, they do not actively hurt homosexual ones.
Consider that a Jewish millionaire makes a large donation to his synagogue. This organization for a long time has competed with the local Catholic Church, and the extra money will give the resources necessary for it to become the dominant sub-culture. The millionaire’s actions constitute a form of acceptable passive-suppression. At no time does he decrease the power of the Catholic Church, only affecting its relative prevalence. Active-suppression would occur if the man had chosen to burn down the Church’s bank or send a death threat to its clergy. In this case only could one justify retribution.
Chick Fil’ A has supported some fringe organizations. Most notably, it gave Exodus International (a “pray the gay away” church) a one thousand dollar donation. Because it treats homosexuality like a sin, I identify this organization as a direct threat to homosexual acceptance. If donations like these were in greater magnitude, one could easily label Chick Fil’ A anti-gay and justify protest. Yet truly, they are not.
Despite my defense of Chick Fil’ A, I think we should still boycott the restaurant. What the LGBT movement needs is not a well-considered analysis but a unifying force. Chick Fil’ A would survive such an attack. It would take a blow, but homosexual teens would see people show their support – people who had a moment ago hopelessly bickered about how to unify – and that benefit would easily outweigh one wrongly hurt fast-food restaurant. I am not suggesting that we succumb to mobocracy, eventually ending up amongst the hatred of men like Hitler. By all means, think! But when a goal has been decided on, go with flow, do not concern yourself with the details, and if you feel yourself drifting towards the wrong path, simply nudge over to the other side. Bluntly put, in independency has become too powerful; social development has created a growing tier of educated youth, but leaders now preach upon ears too proud to follow. Although faith is irrational, let us learn from it. Let us see how it takes people with differences and by discarding petty concerns gives energy to movement. Balancing the independent rationality of individualism with the unity offered by faith – we will allow progress to flow again. Each part will humbly know its place and not resist the rapids which flow towards freedom.
Bishops urged Martin Luther King Jr. to stop all his noisy riff-raff. Why not extinguish injustice through the legal system and avoid the unnecessary noise? In the Letter from Birmingham Jail, MLK gave a response which forever would earn its place in history. Much like Hegel, he asserted that tension has its place within social growth, that only through struggle can a people under common suppression reach acceptance. Imagine that the sit-ins of the Jim Crow days fell to ashes, the blacks once unified through the rhetoric and faith of one man broken and arguing. Today, when people say the LGBT movement asks too much too fast or that it seeks justice the wrong way, we should not let their hesitancy halt us. We will instead secretly welcome this - the intended reaction. For we are one of the extremes by which progress is made, and only through swaying towards the middle shall the scales tilt away from it.