A chicken sandwich fast food chain has taken over my Facebook feed. Sounds pretty odd, doesn't it?
Here's a commentary I wrote a few days ago on Facebook in response to the Chick Fil A controversy.
Never heard of Chick Fil A two weeks ago. Would love to go back to that time. The fact that a Christian conservative billionaire who thinks selling chicken sandwiches is "the Lord's work" comes out against same sex marriage isn't surprising at all. A fair number of fast food corporations are run by known bigots. Tom Monaghan of Dominoes Pizza instantly comes to mind. It's not that special folks. F
urthermore, Cathy knows his main audience. The Bible Belt. In my opinion, he did a masterful job of tapping into the angst of Christians who believe that they are somehow being oppressed these days. All this attention is making millions for the company, and while it's nice to see other companies publicly stepping back from association with Chick Fil A, there's entirely too much of a mega distraction circus feel to all of this.
So, here's what I think. Why not use this as an opportunity to say to hell with fast food giants? The famous Chick Fil A chicken sandwich contains 16 grams of fat and 1300mg of sodium. Think of how many millions of factory farm chickens have suffered and died to provide sandwiches that contribute to heart disease and all sorts of other chronic, debilitating illnesses? This is the norm for fast food: factory farms and disease producing products. Furthermore, fast food chains are a product themselves of diminished communities, desperately overworked people, crass capitalism that has bankrupted the many at the expense of the few, and an education system that places more value on the ability to take standardized tests than teaching real life, health producing skills like cooking, gardening, and foraging.
There's a great need to expand debates like this. Because simply slamming and boycotting - which has gone on for years on a smaller scale with Chick Fil A - hasn't made much of a dent in their bottom line. And it's also a little too easy for all of this to slip into company X is great because they support gay rights, while company Y is evil because they don't. It's a hell of a lot more complicated than that. Many of the same companies coming out in favor of gay rights these days (knowing that it will probably pad their bottom line, mind you), are also the same ones that basically own Wall Street, the White House, Congress, and our State legislatures. So, while I support any positive affirmation for GLBTQ rights, I think it's vitally important that the lens remain wide, and that folks keep their critical thinking skills fine tuned. End of rant.
At almost the same time, unbeknownst to me until later, fellow Zen blogger Algernon wrote a similar post on his Facebook page. Here's the last two paragraphs.
Opt out of fast food (except for emergency snacks) altogether. Explore (or re-discover) the creative and sexy joys of domestic cuisine. Cook and invite people over (without their iPay electronic devices) and have slow, sensible conversations over good food and wine about what makes a healthy community, what kind of friends are good to have in one's life, and maybe (as you feel comfortable with your company) get a little more direct about the issues that got you riled at the nasty fast food chain in the first place.
I'm not being cute here. I really think this is a more direct way of participating in the world and influencing it, even if only by a degree or two. This seems like a valid and important form of activism-and-community-building to me. (It might also change you some, if you are listening and not just persuading.) There is something about people who are quietly, fearlessly true to their hearts -- and a good dinner. They can be very memorable.