When Influence Is Not Served With Dinner
“Have you ever been asked to leave a restaurant?” Lulu, my parrot, asked. Trust lulu for asking unexpected questions.
“Never”, curious are the ways of Lulu, I thought. “What’s on your mind?”
“Just read that Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, was asked to leave Red Hen restaurant.”
“Really? What was the matter?”
“Because the restaurant owner did not appreciate Sarah’s public defence of the President’s ‘cruellest’ policies. The restaurant owner explained ‘the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion and cooperation.’”
“Wow! That was quite a bold move. Why? What policies?”
“About removing children from their parents who enter the country illegally. About rights of the transgender.”
“Hmmm…… If you disagree with somebody, you can kick out a person from your office or restaurant? Would you evict high profile persons ‘wanted’ for crimes in another country? I mean will anybody ask Vijay Mallya to leave a restaurant? Or for that matter, Lalit Modi? Or Nirav Modi? Nirav bhai is staying in the seven star hotels all over the world ever since he absconded from India.”
“Tut, tut, tut! It doesn’t happen in India. Why think of big names? The corrupt corporaters of various municipalities are neither asked to leave nor asked to pay. In our corruption-friendly country the corrupt seem to be welcome everywhere.”
“But that is not the issue.”
“Then what’s the issue?”
“The owner of the restaurant did not want to do business with a person who did not meet her standard of honesty, and compassion and cooperation. Is it fine?”
“Well, what’s wrong with it?”
“Yup! A very value based question. Here is another one: Are you willing to accept that there can be two views on an issue. Would you like to throw out a person out of your restaurant because you do not subscribe to the other person’s viewpoint?”
“Hmm…..Is there anything wrong with the restaurant owner’s view? Can she not decide with whom to work and otherwise?”
“Yes she is entitled. I admire her courage. But the incident is also symptomatic of acute intolerance of a view not in conformity with one’s own. Open any newspaper and read the utterings of Rahul Gandhi and Amit Shah to understand what I mean. Thackeray brothers are in the same league. There is something macho about it, so they think, and public enjoys extreme views and expressions!
“I see your point. People are rejecting the person and not the argument.”
“Exactly!” Lulu said as he fluttered his wings in appreciation.
“Sometimes it is more important to discuss, reason or influence the other person to see the other side of the issue. It is not achieved by use of power.”
“The trouble is that ‘a conflict changes the way people see themselves.’ After this public gaze, the restaurant owner will repeat this behaviour. And so will Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Both will become totally impervious to the other viewpoint.” Lulu pushed away the guava before him, looked at me and asked, “What is the lesson, my friend? Will you try to influence or shut down arguments by show of power? Remember, if you want to change things, you must not behave like your adversary. Do you get me?”
Vivek S Patwardhan
Sir completely agree. Our country swings bn apathy and righteous and vicious trolling. Rational dialogue and agreeing to disagree has disappeared. Sarah Sanders must be in shock…its going to get worse i feel…
I think in democracy one should accept differences of opinion /view points and clear the same thru dialogue/discussion.
Interesting read as usual.Thanks.
Tolerance and acceptance are the two sides of the same coin but instances like the above highlight the fact that in a democratic setup one has a right to Express one’s perception of right and wrong. After all in a battle, be it at any level even in the Mahabharata it boils down to values and compassion for others.
Rightly said sir, That is the meaning of True democracy where one can put their view openly without having any fear even if it’s again any policy. Freedom of expression is completely acceptable in any democratic country until and unless it adheres with responsibility & legitimacy. To put voice in democracy by Stone Pelting in J&K, Anti National Protest in JNU is really intolerable.
How true sir! Respect for other person’s’truth’ is the beginning of any relationship…and any Change I suppose!
True Sir. Leaving a conflict unresolved and not willing to budge from a stand, can only confine one’s thinking ground. Which happens many times over with life’s incidents and experiences. Therefore we become limited and rigid. I think the only way to expand is probably to, step over to the other side, and analyze the issue. This more from a vested interest of growing oneself, rather than the short-sightedness of taking a winning stand.
Dr Zahid Gangjee Writes:
Read your article whilst taking a break and now know I have a lot to chew on during lunch! Hopefully Deepa will not evict me!!
Jokes aside Vivek, lots to ponder on. How difficult it is to reject only the argument and yet be open to listen to the person.
Love to you – and Lulu! Zahid
Very powerful insight. “Will you try to influence or shut down arguments by show of power?”