Long before I retired from my job with one of Canada's major financial institutions in mid-2007, I was unhappy. Actually, I was miserable. Ownership of the company had changed, a new Vice President had been appointed, and expectations reached an all-time high.
So many on the leadership team felt as I did. We'd mutter amongst ourselves about how difficult our jobs had become, how we never had enough time in the course of a day, how unrelenting pressure sucked the little remaining pleasure and fulfillment we derived from what we did. And any time one of us talked to our VP about our grievances, the message was always the same: It is what is it.
I can't tell you how hearing that, either from the VP or from one of my colleagues–who'd also heard it from the VP–used to frustrate me. If I'd heard it one more time, well, I may have lost it.
I used to wonder, how does telling us that address our problems? He was the VP, for goodness sake. If he knew his leadership team was unhappy, all he had to do was push back on the expectations of the higher-ups and ease our burden. The solution was obvious to me. How could it not be to him?
But the truth is, I didn't get it. It is what it is. What the hell does that mean? I was so caught up in my day-to-day anxieties, frustrations, and anger that I failed to see the simplicity of the message. In the five years since I've left that company, its meaning has become so much clearer.
So what does it mean? It means, whatever happens, happens. End of story. And it will continue to happen, regardless of whether we want it to, because it's out of our control to change it. So we might as well get used to it. It's reality. It's really going on. And all the negative emotions it generates within us won't change it one speck.
If you think about it, it is what it is applies to every area of our lives. Here's a good example: We're stuck in traffic on the freeway. Nothing we can do about that, right? It is what it is. About our only option is to be patient and wait. Or to exit the freeway at the next off-ramp. All the negative energy we feel toward being stuck in a car going nowhere won't do us a bit of good. In fact, it could make matters worse. Much worse So, take a deep breath. You may be there for a while. Sooner or later, traffic will move again, and you'll get to where you're going.
That's how I look at what's going on now in the United States with Chick-fil-A, the Southern Baptists, and the anti-gay movement. It is what it is.
Yesterday, I watched a video recorded outside a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Hollywood, California. For approximately six minutes, I listened to misguided and misinformed people make outrageous and insulting statements about gay and lesbian people. (I have no intention of repeating what they said here, because my blog is an anti-gay-free zone. The last thing the anti-gay people deserve is another platform, especially one intended to improve the experience of being gay.)
When the video was over, I was furious. My blood pressure pounded in my head. How could they say things like that? They didn't know me. They didn't know anything about the life I live with Chris in a suburb of Metro Vancouver, the number of years we've been together, or the committed and monogamous nature of our relationship. Where did they get off thinking what they said applied to all gay people?
I hadn't written a post for my blog in some time, but I was determined to write one yesterday, spewing off about what I'd heard, how ignorant some people are, and asking how they had the gall to call themselves Christians when they were so filled with judgment and hate.
It would not have been the first post I've written to rebut some insult directed at gay people in general and me in particular. In fact, all of those posts are still here if you care to look for them. I haven't removed even one, because they're a part of who I was at a time when I let things like that get to me, when I was motivated by the negative energy of other people, and not by what I know in my heart to be true about me and so many other gay people.
So my reaction toward what's happening at the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain is probably atypical. As far as I'm concerned, let the Southern Baptists say whatever they want about gay and lesbian people. They will anyway. It is what it is. The fact is, they may be loud, and awful and unfortunate words may leave their mouths, but they're only embarrassing themselves by being on the wrong side of the argument. They're a dying breed. They no longer speak for the majority of people today, who know gays and lesbians are no less deserving of civil rights than any other minority.
Why do we let these people anger us? Why do we think we would ever change their opinions? Why would we want to? It's not converting the opinions of a conservative Southern Baptist in California that will make my life any easier or better (or the life of a gay person in the U.S., for that matter). Incrementally, in so many little ways each and every day, the tide is turning in our favor, and it's only a matter of time before those against us are rendered irrelevant.
We can speed that along by not giving them the time of day. Stop being angry. Stop wasting your time and energy trying to counter them. Let them sound off with their hate and their ignorance and their bigotry, and, instead, devote your precious time on earth to setting the example of what it really means to be filled with acceptance and love.
It is what is it.