All right, I admit it. I ate breakfast at Chick-fil-A on Wednesday. Not so much because I agree with much of what they have to say (I don’t). And not so much because I think their freedom of speech and/or religion is being abridged (I don’t). It’s not even because I’m particularly against gay marriage (I’m not). Actually, the main reason was that it was on my way to work, and I like their Chick-n-Minis. But I can’t deny I took some sort of perverse pleasure in the whole thing. And I’m not sure how I should feel about that.
Like many orthodox (little-“o”) Christians who don’t identify with the Religious Right, I often find myself shaking my head in disbelief at those who choose to fight in the “Culture Wars” — and even those who can say the words “Culture Wars” with a straight face. Am I really surrounded by people who think that if they codify their personal values into law, that will suddenly settle things for everyone? That if only they could get the government on their side, there would be no more disagreement? Say what you will, but this sort of Right-vs.-Left/Red-vs.-Blue/Liberal-vs.-Conservative/Whatever-vs.-Whatever-Else tug-of-war isn’t about changing minds or effecting progress. It’s about patting yourself on the back for being “right” and shaking your proverbial (and occasionally literal) genitalia in the faces of those who your disagree with.
Accordingly, the real reason I sought out those Chick-n-Minis was because I thought the whole thing was stupid.
Is that a bad reason?
I’m that way more than I care to admit, though. Far too often, when there’s a public disagreement over something, I find myself taking a side in it — not with the side I agree with (because often, I think both sides are idiotic), but with the side I find least annoying. I’m not proud of this, but it seems to be the way I am. I remember ten years ago, when George W. Bush first brought up the idea of going to war with Iraq. I thought the whole idea was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard (but then, I was 17 at the time, so almost everything was the stupidest idea I’d ever heard). We were already at war in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda didn’t have a presence in Iraq, and, um, didn’t we just finish a war with those guys? But then these people started popping up:
Remember those guys? Self-righteous suburban white people who wanted to be cool like those war protestors from the ’60s? People who couldn’t imagine a single reason to invade a country other than to secure cheap oil (which, by the way, never seems to have shown up — someone get on that)? People who thought the height of political discourse was to draw a Hitler mustache on someone’s face? I remember a conversation with my father where I described them as “A bunch of idiotic wannabe hippies who only know three words: ‘war,’ ‘is,’ bad.’ ”
And so I became war supporter.
I’m not proud of that fact, especially since it puts me on “the wrong side of history.” I had once been ambivalent at best about the campaign, but now I found myself arguing till I was blue in the face with anyone who expressed any misgivings about it. I threw my full support behind the war, not because I wanted to send our troops to their deaths but because the people against it were stupid and ignorant and annoying. I sincerely doubt my big, 17-year-old mouth really contributed to the realization of Bush’s imperialism, but if it did, I feel terrible about that.
I do this all the time, though.
After the Aurora shooting happened, I spent far more time on Facebook than I should have, arguing for stricter gun control. Do I really believe that more gun control would solve the problem of violent crime? Well, yes…no…maybe? Honestly, I’m on the fence. But what I know for sure is that the paranoid, narcissistic fantasies of gun nuts are hilarious, and I really enjoy cheesing them off. Like everyone else, I like to think that my viewpoints are carefully reasoned ideas founded on the best possible mix of core values and pragmatism, but at the end of the day, I’m just Lorelai Gilmore gazing at a Pop-Tart — sitting there, holding a cherished viewpoint, and wondering whether I’m so attached to it because it’s really a good idea, or simply because it makes the right sort of people flip out.
Bill O’Reilly may indeed be a “culture warrior,” but I’m coming to realize that I’m little more than a Culture Troll. There are all sorts of important, relevant issues that I could be taking a stand on, but instead I’m eating chicken sandwiches because I think a proposed boycott is stupid. I don’t like any of the “anti-gay” charities that Chick-fil-A donates to; nor do I generally patronize businesses based on their peripheral political actions. I just wanted to be a jerk to people that I thought were being (more) petty. I could have given that five bucks to a homeless guy — and it would have been better for both of our waistlines — but instead I sacrificed it on the altar of Feeling Smarter Than Everyone (by stooping to their level).
Lord forgive me.