Monday, 14 June 2021


When 10 year old tweets by debutant English cricketer Ollie Robinson were revealed it was disappointing. But when Tom Harrison head of the ECB said “it had zero tolerance of racism and sexism” it was awkward. Zero tolerance like the frequently used “I agree with that 100%” boxes the speaker into a corner of intolerance and certainty. 

A young man, through retweeting feeble jokes about sex and Muslims when he was 18, may become history. But pity poor Tom Harrison who’s left himself open to criticism for being intemperate. In disregarding the mental health of poor Ollie (mental health of young cricketers is, after all, top of the list of concerns by the establishment).

Avoid that word “zero.” 

Are we aiming for a kind of unrealistic Utopia with “net zero carbon emissions” by 2030? Anyone who isn’t strongly aware of the perils of global warming is deluded but a quick reduction to net zero is probably unachievable and may have unexpected consequences.

And have you noticed medical attitudes and views on drinking alcohol. 

What was once a “use your common sense” view by doctors became a not-to-be-exceeded figure of 28 units per week apparently plucked from the air. More recently this has dropped to 14 units per week with the caveat that zero units per week is the real safe limit. 

Ironically researchers from University College London (UCL) and Birkbeck, University of London, found that over one in four doctors binge-drink and 5% meet the criteria for alcohol dependence. 

So with zero and 100% representing the poles of much thinking it’s unsurprising we have so much rancour and extremism in today’s world. When someone said to me recently “all Tories are the same – on the take and mendacious” I mildly reeled off a list of Tories who were not like that whilst conceding others were culpable. What happened then was we gradually agreed there were some terrible people in all the parties but that many occupied the middle ground of selflessly trying to do their best for society. Yes, we agreed about 50% with each other. 

We are apparently about to be subject to a trade war with the EU. Megaphone diplomacy at work. In the past such nonsense would have been dealt with quietly behind the scenes. Whilst the results, looking at history, were often disappointing, now negotiations are conducted through the media in public gaze. 

Boris karate chops Macron at the G7 conference
Boris karate chops Macron

One of the most popular views amongst many is that we should have complete transparency in politics and at work. Isn’t this rather like preaching the benefits of complete nudity? Both can be rather embarrassing.  Seeking transparency is like insisting on seeing work in progress. Any artist will say this is not the way they work because too much transparency inhibits creativity.

We all have too much information to process, too many views and probably far too many blogs. What we need to become are better listeners and more considered thinkers. Before we act we should think and avoid making silly boxing-ourself-in-a-corner comments. 

At University we learnt to balance arguments and take an-on-the-one -hand and on-the-other-hand approach. For instance, before dismissing Donald Trump as an obnoxious buffoon we’d benefit by considering how it is and why it is that nearly 50% of Americans think he’s wonderful.

The lateral thinker Edward de Bono died recently. He above all thought the world was neither black nor white but a pleasant kind of pastel yellow – the colour of opportunities.

He also satirised certainty in his book “I Am Right You Are Wrong”.

I agree 100%.

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