The blogosphere buzz from the Right is downright crazed about how Obama sat down to share beers with William Gates and the police officer who arrested him. Reading the tweets and Facebook replies to a recent NRP segment with Ken Rudin shows how so many people missed the boat:
Dear Mr. President: Stop wasting your time and acting "stupidly" in things that you should NOT be involved, stop giving your opinion for the actions of a "cranky old friend with a minority complex", and stop solving your verbal diarrhea with beer happy hours at the expense of Tax Payers. ...Ah, and stop walking like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever ..."Not Cool"...
Oh yeah... drinking beer is the answer to all our problems today... why don't we smoke a joint while we are at it... or now how did Bob Dylan put it... Tellin' me he loves all kinds-a people. He's eatin' bagels. He's eatin' pizza. He's eatin' chitlins.
I think everyone should take a step back and think about how you would resolve a situation involving inflammatory remarks and strong disagreements. Maybe duke it out in the parking lot? That doesn't seem very productive.
I think I have to vote with the President on this one. Go grab a couple of beers and sit around and talk about what happened. That one-on-one personal communication works in any number of situations. I think the world would be a lot better off if we followed Obama's lead and talked out our problems instead of gossiping or backstabbing or lashing out in some other way.
One of the most powerful properties of social drinking is the socialization aspect. Alcohol tends to remove the inhibitions we have in our normal lives, which if not controlled, can have disastrous consequences. But, it can also be an excellent catalyst for very frank discussions.
To put the Biblical spin on it, Jesus presents it this way in Matthew 18:15-17:
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.
The admonition is clear--get the parties in a room and talk about it. If everyone makes up, then you've gained an ally. If you can't come to an agreement, get another trusted person involved.
For all of you asking WWJD, I think Obama is on-track here.
I would challenge anyone this:
The next time you have a serious disagreement with someone at work, be the bigger person. Invite them out for a few drinks, talk about what's bothering you, explain how you feel. And then pay for the drinks. See how much that changes your relationship with that person, and consequently, your standing in the office. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Bottoms up to that.