I’ll admit that I don’t usually read any website’s “Gay Voices” section, but HuffPo’s got my attention this week with “Dan and Me: My Coming Out as a Friend of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A” by LGBT activist Shane L. Windmeyer.
This article gives me some serious hope and encouragement.
Windmeyer’s activist group, Campus Voices, launched the campaign against Chick-Fil-A last year and decried the business as anti-gay. In private, however, Dan Cathy decided to reach out to Windmeyer in private phone conversations. A relationship between the two developed and became a friendship.
The article reads like a testimony to the importance (and necessity) of dialogue with people different from us. The author describes Cathy as laudably open, honest, and humble:
Dan sought first to understand, not to be understood. He confessed that he had been naïve to the issues at hand and the unintended impact of his company’s actions.
These private conversations also followed one of the primary ‘laws’ of dialogue: Don’t downplay your personal views.
He and I were committed to a better understanding of one another. Our mutual hope was to find common ground if possible, and to build respect no matter what. We learned about each other as people with opposing views, not as opposing people. […] We were each entirely ourselves. We both wanted to be respected and for others to understand our views. Neither of us could — or would — change. It was not possible. We were different but in dialogue. That was progress.
Reading this piece reminded me that truly listening to and caring about people is our unique calling as disciples of Christ. We’re blessed to have such a strong advocate of that calling in Pope Benedict XVI. (Though the world is largely uninformed about his efforts.) Across the world, in places of conflict, Catholics are unique bridge builders between hostile groups. But here in the USA, I daresay we Catholics are not labeled as bridge builders.
We must live our lives so that bridge building is what we stand for, rather than burning them. That, my friends, is a serious challenge.
Let’s learn from this beautiful new friendship. Let’s remember that Christ truly compels us forward in faith.
We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life. (Hebrews 10:39)