When my daughters were toddlers they would sometimes throw tantrums. Maybe they were tired or hungry or simply stressed about something like a new school or moving into a new home. Like most parents, we began to recognize the warning signs and acted accordingly, ignoring the bad behavior and never giving in to their demands. We did not give them what they were looking for, which was attention for their bad behavior. It occurred to me recently that we have a population of toddlers who are stressed about moving into a new home and they are acting out, but we are giving them exactly what they want, attention.
"I won't serve gays and you can't make me!"
That is what they are saying. Is it really because it is against their religion? Maybe, but how about the divorced patrons, the lazy customers, the gluttonous shoppers, aren't they all sinners in their eyes? Of course they are, but you can't reason with a toddler, nor should you. They are afraid of something new or frustrated because they can't comprehend and the best tact to take when a toddler is throwing a tantrum is to ignore the bad behavior and praise the good, but we are doing the opposite.
When the pizza shop owner contacts the news and says she won't make a pizza for a gay wedding and there is not a thing you can do to make her, we splash it across headlines and share it on Facebook and social media. A gofundme page gets created and she gets a reward. We're doing this all wrong, people. It's time to ignore the bad and praise the good.
We're asking people to tie their own shoes, but they don't have the necessary skills to perform this task and when they scream and shout because they are frustrated, we're giving in. We need to teach them how to be a grown up and the best way to do that is by showing them what well behaving adults act like. We should be highlighting and praising the Mom and Pop shops that do tie their own shoes and accept all customers. Where are the stories about the bakeries with heterosexual owners making cakes for the gay couple and the straight grandfather taking photographs at a lesbian couple's wedding?
I'm not saying that we shouldn't have rules. All children need and crave structure. We need to put anti-discrimination laws into place locally and nationally and make the punishment known and then we need to follow through. Because as a parent the worst thing you can do is to say you are going to do something and then not do it. Politicians are infamous for doing this and look at what a nation of spoiled, rotten children we have become.
When my oldest daughter was five, she used an ink pen to write her sister's name on the back of seat of our minivan in an attempt to incriminate her younger sister, who was only three. Of course we knew who the real culprit was. Her younger sister couldn't write. Many religious zealots are complaining that they are only exercising their freedom of religion when they attempt to deny service to gays and that they are now the minority who are being discriminated against. Good try, but bad execution. You are not a minority and you can still practice your religion. We are not taking anything away from you, but you are attempting to take away our rights.
It's time to take away the pen, lay down the rules and ignore the tantrums. They always complain the loudest in the beginning. Let's show them who the adults truly are.
William Dameron's personal blog is The Authentic Life