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Every Day, We Teach Others How to Treat Us


May 2017

by John Brian Shannon

Imagine every UK citizen — including those serving in government working to obtain the best Brexit for all Britons — sitting down with a clean sheet of paper to write out the very best future that we could hope to obtain for British citizens, factoring-in our present level of understanding, our natural resources, our labour force, the available technology in 2017 and of course, our (very) human psychology.

It’s such a good idea — why do anything else?

Write the Future You Want

Therefore, let’s start fresh and write out the best possible future for the citizens of the United Kingdom — and just because we’ve always done things a certain way doesn’t mean that we must always do things that way.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would’ve asked for faster horses.” — Henry Ford

Yes! Exactly! Henry Ford was right.

Which is why we now drive capable, safe, and luxurious cars, instead of riding horses specially bred for speed and long distance.

It’s called ‘that Vision thing’ and one of the foremost ‘Visioneers’ in history was… you guessed it, Henry Ford.

Not that Henry was the only one. But it takes a special kind of inspiration to look around and realize that changes are long overdue.

The ‘Win-Lose paradigm’ a.k.a. ‘The Law of the Jungle’ must disappear into the dustbin of history if we’re to survive as a species. Unfortunately, we’ve not yet seen enough of the ‘Win-Win’ vision thing, and here we are well into the 21st-century.

How Does This Thinking Apply to the UK / EU Relationship?

Were the leaders of the UK and of the EU to sit down with a clean sheet and write out the best possible future for their respective citizens, no doubt, it would look very different from the present articles of debate.

Every military person will tell you the quickest way to lose a war is to constantly defend bad positions. And that’s true in politics and in life. Far better to take an objective look at a situation, write out the best possible outcome, and always work to that script.

It’s the way of the world, and what appears as indefensible positions now will seem completely ridiculous positions a year or a decade from now.

At the very least, when we start out with a clean sheet, we start from the most positive position — instead of defending an evolved (bad) position.

Teach Us to be Part of the Solution, Instead of Part of the Problem!

Every day, we teach others how to treat us. We must always be mindful what we’re teaching others.

If we teach them that threats of violence get us to the negotiating table, we’ve taught them to be our abusers!

If, as a professional courtesy, we forward our policy proposals to them ahead of upcoming meetings with them — we’re teaching them to treat us as part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

If we teach them that we’re willing to be responsible for our items of responsibility, we’re sending the signal that we expect the same from them.

READ: Every Day, We Teach Others How to Treat Us

In Any Relationship, Problems Will Crop Up

It’s how you handle them that counts!

Putting on a great big voice and shouting via the media, “You owe us 100 billion euros to pay for projected future liabilities and we want the money NOW!” isn’t the best way to teach others how to treat us.

And with that kind of tone, the response will always be negative.

Such statements are the best way to make UK citizens and politicians part of the problem, instead of part of the solution.

That’s not the way to solve (what probably is) a very real problem. No doubt there will be financial costs associated with Brexit, and both sides may incur different kinds of costs, and all of it must be fairly and carefully worked out between the parties.

The EU doesn’t want to get stuck paying billions of euros worth of future pension or other social expenditures for UK citizens who work or once worked in the European Union. And that’s reasonable. Who could blame them?

I hope Prime Minister Theresa May, fresh from her council election victories, contacts the appropriate EU politicians and magnanimously expresses to them that there won’t be any problem with Britain meeting it’s commitments to the EU, and further, invites them to a working lunch at Downing Street to ask them to generally inform her and the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the concerns held by senior EU politicians regarding future British liabilities to the Union.

Not that anything should be decided then! Far from it. But European Union officials should feel comfortable enough to express their concerns and to inform the Prime Minister how they arrived at those particular numbers.

If Theresa May plays that role well, she will disarm potential EU opponents and cause them to want to show up with reasonable and defensible numbers, and they’ll arrive there in a spirit of mutual problem-solving.

Which is the only way it’s going to work.

Both sides need to get it through their heads; Brexit is either going to become a ‘Win-Win’ proposition, or it will become bloody-hell for both sides. As an educated person who lives in the 21st-century, you already know that ‘bloody-hell’ is a ‘Lose-Lose’ proposition.

And only fools engage in ‘Lose-Lose’.

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