Today I read a very interesting post by Mark Surman, the Executive Director at Mozilla. Actually, the comments were the most interesting. I find it complicated to sort out the forces at play here. And internet neutrality is in the mix too. Mark both defended the mindful unity of the diverse Mozillians and the leadership of CEO Brendan Eich. For those who don’t know, Eich donated 1K to the Yes on 8 campaign. Mark wrote about something all of us know first hand, many times we are called to get along with people who do not agree with us. The comments cover the whole pallet of options though I have to remark that it was, by and large, an articulate river – which is a real cut above most comment mudslides.
It has all set me thinking about forgiveness. What does it look like and what is forgiven? I have never been in a Hobby Lobby or Walmart. I have never eaten at Chik-fil-a. I love my iphone, RuPaul makes me laugh and I do not shop at American Apparel. If I can afford it, I always chose union; even blew such a gasket that one organization I belong to changed their conference hotel. The idea that I am boycotting Arizona is really an option as if there was a family funeral there I would be going. Somehow I have developed an ornate mental system about what is approval, disapproval, deal breaker, assuager, fixer, etc.
The question on my mind today is have I created a way for the offender to change teams? Once the money was donated, the odious action occurred, the public statement was made, are they banished forever? Can they ever cross over? Now that Dan Cathy said his corp won’t make any more anti-LGBT donations, can I buy some waffle fries? As profoundly upset as I have been with Obama about Marriage Equality, is all that over since he evolved, told the DOJ to implement the SCOTUS decision and welcomes same-sex couples to events? But what about no EO over ENDA? And another EO to stop the deportations. Is he on my team now? I think chances are pretty good that the CEO of most corporations is not on my team. PUT DOWN THOSE BRAWNY TOWELS.
It takes a lot of energy to discover, remember and sustain the list of offenders. It would take a database to track who is right or wrong on every issue. You would have to create a method to grade the level of offense and measure the scope of offenders. So why do any of it? I do it because it feels good to demonstrate my interior beliefs. Even when no one is looking, there is something wholesome and conscious about managing my participation.
But when I dig deep, I have to admit a few things:
- Most of this is luxury. The fact that I have access to information, so many choices and optional actions is a first world privilege.
- Yes, Margaret Mead, one person can make a difference which is realized as the crowd collects around it’s wisdom.
- Have I structured this so the offender can reconsider, make amends, save face, and change their position? What do I require of them to build my trust and create an agreement?
This last one was one of Gandhi’s principle recommendations. If you draw the line of what is right and what is wrong, you have to provide a two-way bridge. I recommend a lot of signage and a welcoming committee on the side I am cheering for.
UPDATE April 3, 2014
Today Brendan Eich stepped down. There was so much fury about this that I wonder about all the threads reaching out to businesses and society in general. What was the lesson and who will listen? I do believe there is a better way when the offender is surrounded with a diverse community, is at ease around those whom he fears. I would prefer that he change. I would prefer that change became attractive. Thats a lesson we can all live with.
As an equality activist, it seems to me that the real win here would have been for Brendan to change, to make amends and become a champion. It would have been good for him, good for queers, good for straights and really good as an example of how to demnstrate change.