I found myself in a few good discussions yesterday revolving around the same topic: the Pope and Kim Davis. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be so much about who said what–for the most part.
What triggered the discussion was the multitude of posts I saw all over Facebook of people giving up on Super Pope because he went to go visit Davis, the one who’s been to court and been sued for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. I read a few of the articles, wanting to know exactly what went down, and to the best of my understanding, the Vatican confirmed that the Pope did pay her a visit. So far all I’m seeing is that Davis’s attorney is saying that the Pope told her to stay strong.
My personal interpretation of it–because, let’s face it, that’s all any of us can do at this point because none of us were a fly on those walls–is he simply visited a troubled person during a troubled time, and said to stay strong. You know, those nice, encouraging words people tell people that are having a difficult time. I think they were words of compassion, a recognition of someone traveling a difficult road, and just reminding them to keep moving forward.
That being said, the main debate that was had was can one support the right for a person to have their own beliefs when that belief is spreading hate?
My argument is that any one can believe or feel however they want, as long as they’re not harming anyone else or themselves, then it’s for them to deal with and explore. Now, in the instance of Kim Davis, she was hurting those that she wasn’t issuing licenses to, emotionally and socially. She was also hurting herself as well, though I suppose that point is debatable as well.
During my first discussion with this, I argued intent. If a person is intending ill, then it’s the same thing as harming another person. My classmate swapped to a different example–those who really, truly feel that a person is condemned to Hell unless they save said person’s soul. They absolutely believe that they are doing good, and not causing harm to another person–and in most instances, they aren’t, unless they convince a person they’re completely unnatural and that they must change and forget their identity. With that in mind, is it still alright for each individual to believe what they want to believe with that amount of conviction?
The problem with this is that people are actually doing what they feel is right, and they believe they are doing good in the world, and I don’t feel like anyone can fault them for that. Intention absolutely still has a lot to do with how to decipher a person’s actions. They are doing what they can to the best of their knowledge. However, what I feel is lacking is understanding. Understanding is what allows each individual to know that each person is walking their own path, and they must be allowed to make their own mistakes or their own successes. That’s not to say that a person can’t throw in their caring two cents, but there’s a difference between force and suggestion.
My other debate went around and around the circle of whether or not Davis should have had the right to say “no” in her place of employment when it came to something that went against her beliefs. My immediate response is that of course she has the right to say “no,” given that she tag some one else to fill her role when it came to same-sex couples. They shouldn’t be denied their right to marriage just like she shouldn’t feel forced into doing something she’s not comfortable with.
Of course, this raised the issue that if she got another person to issue the licences, then she would still be allowing it to happen, which isn’t the kind of compromise she would be down with (I would assume).
I believe in safe work environments, and I believe that every one is allowed to believe what they want, and if it means that they are more on the negative side than others, then so be it. But my biggest belief is that every one should be left to their own devices provided no one is being harmed in the process. So how could Davis have gotten through this situation unharmed? Set her beliefs aside? Gotten another teller? Quit her job? Spoken to the manager? Transfer to a different department?
I don’t know how long she had been working in that department. I don’t know if it was after same-sex marriage was legalized federally or not. However, a job is a job, and those that are hired for a job are expected to complete it.
The flip side of this, is that a person (I’m fairly certain), can’t be fired for their beliefs. So how does this alter how she was handled?
At the end of the day, she was hired to work for the Federal government. It wasn’t a mom and pop cake shop, it was the federal government. I believe those in the cake shop, because it was their own business, allowed to deny customers (though I don’t agree that it’s right, but it’s their right). However, if you’re working for someone, especially the government, you don’t get to make that call.
There’s a lot of ways I can go back and forth on this debate. It’s a fascinating one that calls into question where lines divide between belief and destruction. Flat out, I believe Kim Davis acted wrongly, and it’s wrong to discriminate against any one. However, if we want to look at it fairly, I can think of a hundred arguments for and against everything surrounding her.