Changing our minds and hearts occurs when we take the time to understand something more deeply – to walk for a moment in another’s shoes. We know when such a change is real because the person has nothing to gain politically or economically but much to gain emotionally. These type of changes give us hope that as human beings truth will ultimately prevail as we strive for fairness and equality for all.
Michael Bowers, the former Attorney General for the state of Georgia, notoriously known for his anti-gay credentials, epitomized such a change of mind and heart this week. While occupying that office in the ’80’s he upheld laws that discriminated against gays. However, recently he spoke out against newly proposed legislation in Georgia that would allow personal religious faith to be used to justify discrimination of those same groups. At 73 years young he gives us hope that positive change is possible regardless of age or standing. Since he is still viewed as a powerful and respected Republican, long after his 16 year stint as the top legal mind in his state, we can believe in the adage, ‘Hope springs eternal.’
When interviewed regarding his change of position on gay rights he said simply, “I know I’m different. I’m not as mean as I used to be” and he expressed regret for the pain he had caused in the past. We have to admire a person who comes forth publicly, to shout to the world, ‘I was wrong and want to correct my error in thinking.’ I want to make things right.’
There will come a day when the remaining states will join the existing 36 and support the right for gays to marry. Mr. Bowers willingness to speak out about his change of understanding and position regarding what constitutes discrimination will have a positive effect on the when and where of it all.
For a culture that often believes that the younger among us have a hold on truth and accomplishment this statement by a former Attorney General can move mountains among his peers – a group that was raised during a time when exclusion was valued over inclusion and fear reigned supreme. His statements will serve as a lighthouse of truth that will shine through for others to find their way to a deeper knowing that the Universe doesn’t make mistakes. In our hearts we know that everyone has the right to live free of discriminatory practices but it will take all of us, regardless of age, to be brave enough to speak out and promote this truth.
Our opinions or biases were formed from scant information often heard around the family’s kitchen table as we were growing up. But when something continues to niggle at us and seems to confront those beliefs it is time to reassess why we believe as we do. Then the wiser among us will choose to challenge those biases and opinions by seeking to understanding more deeply the rest of the story. Let’s make a commitment to join the ranks of this later group and continually seek to understand while keeping in mind the importance of the age old statement, ‘Judge not lest ye be judged.’
Have a great few days!
On September 28th, 2013 I wrote a blog entitled, ‘Barilla Out/Bertolli in. It was in reference to a statement from the CEO of the Barilla company saying basically that he did not support gay rights and, in fact, as far as he was concerned they (gays) could buy another brand of pasta if they didn’t like his comment. (You can read the entire blog by going to the archive section of my web site)
Then the power of social media kicked in and with it the possible negative financial effect to his company was realized and within two days his public relations team – wait for it – had him apologize for his comment which even included a weak invitation to gays to come on board and enjoy their pasta. Tongue in cheek, I thought to myself, “What an amazing change of heart and so quickly! I’m not buying it.” I need to see more than a mere 2 sentence apology to believe a deeper understanding of human rights happened. Consequently, I’m still buying only Bertolli pasta.
On the other hand there is a change worth supporting! Today an article was published regarding the Chick-fil-A company and its about turn on the same topic. About two years ago another CEO, Dan Cathy, came out in support of the “traditional family” and condemning gay marriage by saying when questioned by a reporter about his position on the topic, “guilty as charged”. Someone(s) in the company also realized the long term damage that could result from his comment especially in the future when the company plans to expand well beyond its Southern strong hold. So today we read that when Dan Cathy was again interviewed about gay marriage he said, “All of us become wise as time goes by …we sincerely care about all people.”
The company has done its research on the Millennial generation who want local sourcing, product quality (getting rid of those antibiotic filled chickens) and worker rights which include a higher sense of social consciousness (we are all made from the light of the Universal Energy).
The company with its 1800 stores plans to add 180 more restaurants this year creating an ever expanding footprint in the fast food market. When I read that Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director of the gay rights advocacy group, Campus Pride, once a critic and now a fan of the company said, “Dan (Cathy) and I have an ongoing friendship…I am appreciative for the common ground we have established in treating all people with dignity and respect.” I decided I’m in! Although I have never tried their food due to their previously limited social consciousness it seems the time has come. It may be the result of the the public relations advice, the financial bottom line but maybe …just maybe…the real change happened due to the friendship that developed between these two men. When we get to know others who may have a slightly different life perspective than our own, understanding and truth develops and we look past any differences and into their hearts.
Congratulations to Dan Cathy, Shane Windmeyer and everyone at Chick-fil-A. You are doing the right thing!
Please send this blog on to anyone who cares about human rights. One person at a time we can make a difference!
Have a great few days!