It seems that chicken is all over the news this week, and things are no different here at the Sundmark household. Monday evening when we came home from work we discovered carnage in our yard. The security of our chicken tractor—the one that got us through last summer with 25 healthy birds—had been breached. Some kind of critter, most likely a dog, had broken the fiberglass greenhouse siding off of one side and proceeded to slaughter seven of our chicks. The others went in to a state of shock and huddled together in a corner. The ones on the bottom of the pile suffocated. All together we lost fifteen of our chickens.
I know that eating local food isn’t going to save the world, but it’s a cause our family has decided to put some effort toward. For us it means growing a garden or buying from local growers. It means harvesting salmon, buying beef from our local cowboy, and raising our own chickens for both eggs and meat. After the slaughter we found in our yard on Monday it looks like next winter we’ll have fewer chicken dinners.
There are plenty of foods I’m not willing to give up in order to eat a strictly local diet and so we spend a great deal of money on food that comes from places much warmer than Alaska. I’m a big fan of apples, for example, and I have a weakness for the Rugged English Cheddar cheese that Save-U-More carries. In fact Save-U-More is full of surprises, including an aisle of Trader Joe’s foods and an extensive organic produce section. It’s a goofy grocery store with its bizarre layout and its incessant rearranging, but for the most part it keeps the foodies in Homer happy.
For the size of our town we have a good selection of restaurants and cafes as well. Back in the day when we ran a bed and breakfast we had a guest one time that expressed surprise that a few of our nicer restaurants stayed open through the winter. I tried to explain that in Homer people have priorities that might not be the same as in other parts of the country. We may only buy a new pair of jeans every two or three years, and we may drive a Subaru that can only be entered through the passenger side door (true story) but we’ll spend good money on good food. A few of our higher end restaurants have survived when Arby’s and Burger King couldn’t make a go of it.
And so it’s safe to say that after living in Homer for eighteen years I’m no expert on fast food. I eat at the local Subway once every couple of years, and I haven’t stepped inside the local McDonalds since my niece worked there several years ago. When I go to Anchorage there are so many great places to choose from that fast food doesn’t even cross my mind. What all of this is getting at is that I’ve never eaten at a Chick-Fil-A, and I never will. I wouldn’t have even if Dan Cathy had never made his statement in opposition to gay marriage, or if the company had never donated millions of dollars to organizations like the Family Research Council.
When I came home on Monday to find a bunch of dead chickens in my yard I had the realization that something I thought was secure was in fact very vulnerable. I feel the same way today after seeing photos from around the country of crowds of people lining up to eat at Chick-Fil-A’s. I thought we were moving beyond homophobia, but I see that we have a long way to go. I believe that for some people eating at Chick-Fil-A this afternoon was a matter of showing support for our first amendment rights, but I don’t think that was the true motivation of most.
I’m in the fortunate position of having a diverse group of Facebook friends. They cover most sides of any political issue and this whole Chick-Fil-A thing is no exception. One of my friends stated in a thread that people were just taking a stand for Godly values by showing their support for Chick-Fil-A. A couple of people on this thread even evoked the old saying, “hate the sin but love the sinner.” It shows me that to them today’s turnout for chicken sandwiches wasn’t about first amendment rights. It was about speaking out against homosexuality. What I want to point out is that hating the “sin” in this case is synonymous with hating “the sinner,” because it’s not a matter of deciding to be gay; it’s a matter of being gay. And that hatefulness, no matter how it’s framed, is disheartening.
A line from a John Gorka song comes to mind sometimes when I feel overwhelmed by the way humans build up walls and divisions between one another… We are here to love each other, that is all…
I know it’s only a line to a song and that it’s not realistic to think that this world will ever be a place where all people show love to one another all the time. But the truth is that we all have the capacity for love on an individual level. Every day lives are changed and attitudes are changed; every day individual worldviews are changed because one person somewhere decides to imagine the world from another person’s point of view.
We’re a diverse bunch, us humans. Some of us will raise our chickens ourselves, some of us want ours served with a side of waffle fries. Others of us would never think of eating a chicken. The reality though is that we all get hungry. Our differences are lower on the scale of importance than the things we have in common. Let’s focus less on the ways we fill ourselves up, and more on the fact that we all need food.