This week's biggest political battle took place over fast food chicken sandwiches.
It all started when Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy was quoted in an online publication supporting the traditional definition of marriage of one man and one woman. It was nothing new. Cathy had stated his beliefs before and often, but for some reason these particular words touched a nerve.
Before too long, the statements became an opportunity for those who support gay marriage to score political points. Mayors from San Francisco, Chicago and Boston each said that they do not want Chick-fil-A in their towns. That's an easy statement to make, since there is only one Chick-fil-A combined in the borders of those three cities. Some others, who are not mayors of major cities, also called for boycotts of Chick-fil-A, apparently because eating waffle fries and chicken sandwiches can be sacrificed to make a point.
Well, conservative folks with microphones responded, as they either felt their viewpoints were being attacked or they just wanted to show support for others with the same stance. Former presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum called for Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. People responded. Chick-fil-A had their best sales day ever. Theoretically, those who ate at Chick-fil-A on Aug. 1 were either in support of traditional marriage or didn't know about the politics, support gay marriage and just like the chicken (Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" jokingly coined these people "chicken-eating Judases.").
But of course, that couldn't be the end of it. Gay marriage supporters then held their own, smaller "kiss-in" day, where gay couples took photos of themselves kissing at Chick-fil-A restaurants.
So let's summarize: a socially conservative company president made a political statement, so socially liberal mayors made their own, so social conservatives responded with their wallets and appetites, so social liberals countered with their own appetites and also their lips.
But what did it all prove? It made little difference, since it was largely political theater on a fast-food stage. Neither side likely gained any supporters, and neither side showed any common ground beyond loving to eat chicken in the form of nuggets, strips, salad and sandwiches. Largely, all it did was entrench each side into their positions.
All the passion over chicken was misplaced. All it did was separate people.
We don't believe that common ground is impossible to find. It just takes effort. Imagine what could have been done with the money spent on chicken, the passion showed by both sides and the power of numbers. How many schools could have been built or restored with that combination? How many houses could have been fixed up instead of fast food gobbled? What if instead of consuming fast food, the two sides had instead planted a community garden together or filled up a food pantry?
Ultimately, this week meant nothing in the long run. In a year or two, when one asks about the time people ate at Chick-fil-A, the response will be "Which time?" There are already plenty of things that separate in our country, divisions that will likely never be combined. And it's fine to believe what you want to believe and support what you want to support.
We're not saying both sides should just get along. But when the battleground is fast food, perhaps it's time to re-evaluate priorities.
The cow mascots of Chick-fil-A have a catchphrase: Eat Mor Chikin. To fit the cows' poor spelling, we have a different catch phrase: Bild sumthing tugethr.
For the Morning Sun