Seth Godin writes about business and marketing, so his newest blog post isn't about Prop. 8 at all. But maybe there's some deep wisdom in marketing.
I read Godin's post Two Ways To Deal With 'No' this morning and like most of what Seth writes it's quick, easy to read and thought provoking. He's talking about dealing with rejection in business, like being turned down for a job or contract. He writes...
You could be more gracious than if you'd won the work. You could send a thank you note for the time invested, you could sing the praises of the vendor chosen in your stead and you could congratulate the buyer, "based on the criteria you set out, it's clear that you made exactly the right choice for your organization right now." That doesn't mean the criteria were right, it just means that you're not attacking the person for being an impulsive lunatic.
Here's how I think this could apply to gay marriage advocates....although I want to make it clear that this is solely my take on applying this concept, not Mr. Godin's.
Since Election Day the response of gay marriage advocates so far has largely been to attack Prop. 8 advocates as impulsive lunatics who were full of hate and stupid, But is that really the criteria that people who voted Yes on 8 voted on? I don't think so.
People who voted against marriage equality didn't think "What's the stupidest most hateful thing I can vote for today?" Some of their criteria is wrong in my opinion but that's not useful to point out. It's better to look for agreement.
So is there any common ground? My last piece on Rick Warren here at The Huffington Post asked people to consider what they had in common with Pastor Rick Warren. Some who commented were adamant there was essentially nothing they had in common. I think that's a limiting belief that blocks understanding, dialog and the road to a real solution.
One sign of extremism is the shrill denial that ANY common ground exists between us and them. We are good and right and THEY are just evil and stupid. We've seen this from the Bush administration a lot in the past eight years and unfortunately, a lot of gay marriage advocates seem to adopted the same basic tactic.
But if we try and adopt the mindset that Godin suggests for dealing with rejection in business, I think there's a major area of common ground between the pro and anti Prop. 8 forces. I think the politics of division make it impossible to see just how close the camps really are on a key issue but by trying to say "based on the criteria you set out, it's clear that you made exactly the right choice" to the people who voted Yes on 8, the commonality emerges..
Here's my attempt at a congratulation letter to the Yes On 8 forces...
Dear Yes On 8 voters,
The members of the gay and lesbian community and their friends and family would like to congratulate on your victory. It may seem an odd gesture but we think the amount of money and time you put into the campaign shows that you actually agree with us on what is really the central issue.
We agree with you that marriage in important.
You made this case to the voters. You said that marriage is something important that must be protected. You're right.
If you've seen angry protests in the past few weeks, please understand that they happened because we believe marriage needs to protected. Imagine the pain and anguish you might feel if your right to marry the person you loved were suddenly taken away. That's what a lot of us felt happened on election day.
We want to preserve marriage - your marriages and our marriages, too. We don't want to change your religious beliefs or make your church perform a ceremony that's against its traditions. Many gay people belong to churches that embrace us and those churches should be free to perform services...just as other churches should be free to follow their own views and not perform services if that's what they want.
Marriage has so many contractions. On one hand, it's a very conservative institution that helps maintain order with things like property inheritance. On the other, it's one of the craziest leaps of faith that anyone can make personally. Knowing the divorce statistics, knowing that people change over time and knowing that the incredible and powerful feeling of being in love can change radically with time - we still choose to stand up and say that we are ready to risk pain and heartache by stepping into the important and life changing event called marriage. We want the freedom to take that risk.
It may not be something that makes sense to you but why someone loves another person often doesn't make sense. We often don't even understand it ourselves. But, just like you, we do love.
If you know the value and importance of marriage and family in your own life then you can understand the value we place on those things, too. And that's why we feel so strongly that we have to continue this fight for marriage - because it matters to us just as much as you've shown that it matters to you.
So congratulations for standing up for marriage. We understand that change can be fast sometimes and that his new idea of love and marriage may be new to you - but so is the idea of an African-American President who reaches out to those with whom he disagrees.
We invite you to join us in the future as we try struggle for the rights and risks of marriage. This vote showed that marriage matters. Now it's the time to make it matter for everyone.