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Going with the tide of popular opinion is a cheap and lazy way to avoid thinking, and it also contributes to the downward spiral in social behaviour and personal conduct.

All sorts of things which upset us are avoidable, but we act as though we believe they’re not. For example, we moan about rudeness and inconsiderate behaviour in public; we shake our heads at the hopelessness of acts of war and terror; we bemoan declining values and poor delivery in our public services. In all these things and more we are harsh judges when it comes to the conduct of others.

We talk and act as though this is all beyond our control, and we buy into lazy thinking which provides reasons for us not to act.

We all ‘know’, for example, that conflict is inevitable and unavoidable, we understand that stress and pressure contribute to poor service, and we accept that wars have always happened and always will (as long as people are around to conduct them).

What we choose to ignore is that these are all false and self-serving ideas that simply let us off the hook (and keep us in the herd). As individuals we are not powerless, as long as we tackle the bits we can influence.

Conflict may be inevitable, but it is also easily re-routed into dialogue and meaningful discussion, if you know how (and that can be learned).

There is no causal link between pressure and rudeness. However stressed and pressurised we are, we can still be polite, in fact courtesy can be used as a simple stress management technique.

We participate in falling standards of public service by putting up with them and not taking the time to say that we expect better. Budget cuts are not an excuse, though they are becoming the ‘get-out’ explanation. We also contribute to the problem in many ways (missed appointments, unreasonable demands, rudeness to staff etc etc).

By the way, when I say ‘we’, I don’t mean you and me; it’s the others that are the problem, isn’t it?

Seriously, we fall into the trap of thinking things have no solution, because it is easier to think that way.

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