The Light Side of Y2K
Saturday, January 9, 1999 by Dave Winer.
Around the beginning of the year I almost wrote a piece with a formula for resolving our differences over the impeachment drama that was playing out in Washington.
Here's the formula. Everyone pair up with another person. You have to team up with someone who disagrees with you. No more talking to people who share your point of view. For example, James Carville and Ken Starr would have to talk, one-one, no TV cameras, no need to spin. They could yell at each other if they wanted to, but they wouldn't get to resume their lives until they agreed on what to do.
And it wouldn't just be the rule for people on TV. All of us would have to do it too. You can't say "I wish it would go away" unless you could say how it should go away. No more running away from this problem. Find someone to buddy up with, and talk and listen, be a juror and a negotiator, get involved and get into agreement.
This idea was an outgrowth of my summary statement for 1998. I said that we would never get anywhere in anything we do until we could focus on the things we have in common instead of focusing on the differences. It's as true for the software industry as it is for the US government.
A few weeks ago, everyone was looking for reinforcement, hearing what they wanted to hear, repeating the same things over and over. This is typical of dysfunction. You can't get anywhere until you really consider alternate points of view, and find a way to give to the other view, and be open to it becoming your point of view.
One of the US Representatives said it really well, I thought. The reason the Clinton impeachment was such a divisive issue is because it's gray. I can respect someone who thinks he should stay, because I could imagine myself having that point of view. So it should be possible for it to be a two-way thing. But at the time of the impeachment hearings and vote in the House, no one was listening.
Now that process has gone further I realize the issue is not impeachment or removal, it isn't even integrity. It's a wake up call. When will we ever work together? If not now, when?
Yogi Berra is, and always has been, one of my favorite teachers. He and George Steinbrenner, the owner of the New York Yankees baseball team, were feuding.
Then, ceremoniously, Steinbrenner went to visit Yogi in New Jersey. He offered an apology and a handshake. Yogi took it, and made a joke, in true Yogi fashion.
Quoted in the NY Times, Carmen Berra said: "With the year 2000 coming, everyone is thinking about the future, about peace, about making things right."
It got very very busy here last week, so I didn't have time to watch the opening of the Senate impeachment trial on TV. But I did have time last night to catch up. I watched Larry King Live and a special report on ABC. An amazing thing has happened.
In today's NY Times, a picture shows Edward Kennedy and Phil Gramm, a liberal Democrat and a conservative Republican. They got into agreement. On camera last night, Republicans and Democrats were *glowing* in their discovery at how wonderful working together is!
I get a super-charged very positive feeling that maybe, just maybe we're going to do something great. It's not about Clinton's underpants anymore. It's about what we can do if we focus on what we have in common.
If you want to know what it's about, just look at the calendar. Out with the old in with the new. There's no reason it has to be business as usual in the new millennium.
When the clock flips over we'll celebrate a new beginning. We're so lucky to be alive now, we have an opportunity to reinvent and redefine human nature, to become much more than we are now.
What a brilliant day in the USA! Savor it.