There was a great cartoon in yesterday’s FT. A middle aged couple are speaking to another couple visiting them at home. They are in a totally empty room with bare floorboards and a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. The caption is one of the hosts saying ‘we’re boycotting Chinese goods’.
This time last year in my speech on pro-social behaviour I made the point about how people tend to fall into a model of social change that is Government centric (‘what are they going to do for us?’) when instead we should start from a position that is more citizen centric (‘what are we going to do for each other?’). The cartoon captures this. Many of us support the protests of supporters of Tibetan rights and freedoms, which are aimed at those who govern the Olympic Movement and at governments themselves. Yet, we quite happily continue to go to the computer, electronics or clothes store and splash out on goods made in China.
I am not sure I have the strength of conviction to stop buying Chinese goods myself but it is worth noticing that we find it much easier to attack the ‘condoning’ of China by those in authority than we do to question our own retail collaboration.
As we begin to imagine the post-pandemic world, we need to challenge our use of old metaphors to allow for new narratives and better futures to emerge.
With the post-Christmas resolutions looming, when we try to address the worst of our seasonal over-indulgences, the question remains: how can we give up bad habits for good?