Coffee Date? On Friday, Chat With Someone Who Disagrees With You
Conservative Foster Friess wants people to take a coffee break with someone they disagree with.
When was the last time you invited a friend for coffee? How about an enemy?
Philanthropist Foster Friess is encouraging people to do just that on Friday. Through his Return to Civility initiative, the conservative business investor is urging people to take a “coffee break” with people they disagree with.
“Democrats invite a Republican. Young and old, black and white — get to know someone with whom you don’t agree,” Friess’ website states.
Friess’ organization is also offering coffee reimbursements of $25 for the first 1,000 people who commit to meeting with an ideological opponent.
On Twitter, former Republican Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum called the initiative “a great challenge.” He invited fellow CNN commentator and liberal Van Jones to coffee.
— Rick Santorum (@RickSantorum) August 21, 2017
Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham also tweeted about the challenge. She asked Rachel Maddow, host of the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC to join her for a coffee break.
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) August 22, 2017
A webpage promoting the August 25 “coffee break” shares a video epitomizing the spirit of Friess’ initiative. Produced by Mutual of Omaha, the video tells the story of two stark ideological opponents who became friends.
It began when Donna Red Wing, leader of LGBT activist group One Iowa, invited Bob Vander Plaats to coffee. Plaats is the president of THE FAMiLY LEADER, a Christian pro-family organization in Iowa.
“The skeptic in me thought she would have an agenda, and she probably thought I might have an agenda,” Plaats recalls in the video. “But as soon as we sat down I thought, she doesn’t have an agenda. She just wants to get to know who I am, and that really compelled me to say, I should want to get to know who she is.”
“I think when people have the courage to show you who they are, something happens,” Red Wing says in the video. “And so what surprised me about Bob was his humanity. He’s an incredible dad. I also found him to be really funny, and I didn’t expect that at all.”
She went on to say she has grown tired of the hate, aggression and snarkiness that often muddies cultural debates. “We can disagree without being disagreeable,” she said.
Now, Red Wing and Plaats have coffee together every few months.
Plaats says his beliefs have not changed, but his approach at work has. He also praised Red Wing’s passion and dedication to her own beliefs. “Regardless if I agree or disagree with her on the issues, I have a tremendous respect for her,” he said.
Maybe after Friday, a few more people around the nation will be able to say the same of someone they disagree with.