Monthly Archives: May 2022


I’m noticing I have started to have a visceral reaction to reading phrases like “in order to address the problem, we must do …” or “the [govenment|business leaders|the public] must [change|fix|…]”.

The group or person to whom this imperative is addressed hasn’t done anything like what they’re being instructed to do thus far for a variety of reasons (even if, perhaps especially if, the group being addressed is “us”). Perhaps that’s because they have a vested interest in the status quo. Perhaps because they don’t see the issue the writer has identified as a problem. Perhaps they just can’t be bothered.

Whatever. A strident “must” demand isn’t going to get you where you want to go.


I hate to rag on about this again, but here it is in an article about the disparity in Covid outcomes between Australia (and New Zealand) and the US, and it locates the root cause in the culture of trust in the former countries and its lack in the latter. People ask me from time to time what the difference between NZ and the US is, and this is what I tell them. I illustrate it with the story of the stolen canoe carrier from the first weeks of my being here, and how I came to understand the problem. And so, it’s not just a cultural annoyance, it’s responsible for millions of deaths. And maybe the eventual disintegration of the society.