Ever see someone scooting through traffic, changing lanes, overtaking on the inside, even using the emergency lane to get a car or two ahead in congestion? These are all behaviours that reflect a ‘driving against you’ rather than ‘driving with you’ habit, the flaw in this mentality being that, more often than not, we all end up at the same red light or traffic jam somewhere along the way regardless. Even if they do get ahead slightly, they’ll still be just locking their car as you are pulling into the carpark. The effort and stress just isn’t worth the measly reward.

    It’s an example of the concept of ‘getting ahead’, playing out on the roads. New Yorkers like to call it “pushing over the other guy, grabbing his hot dog and stealing his cab”. But this isn’t New York – it’s not even ‘old’ York, where I hear that kind of thing happens outside the pub every night (just swap the hot dog for chips with curry sauce).

    Seriously though, I witness this behaviour not only when I’m driving, it’s also apparent when I’m parking, shopping, queueing for coffee and watching people on reality TV*. “I was here first”. “I am more deserving”. “I really need this”.

    I used to wonder who thought like that and why – is it conscious, part of someone’s bigger plan, or merely habitual? Then I heard our country’s leader, speaking about addressing gender inequality, state that he didn’t “want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse”, which is apparently in line with policy: “That is an absolutely Liberal value, that you don’t push some people down to lift some people up.”

    Once again we are exposed to the Trumpist assumption that a society cannot all share in the spoils of our hard work, wealth and good fortune; there can only be a finite number of winners, and therefore multiple losers for the current system to function. “Trust us”, play along, and prosperity will trickle down to us plebs before too long. Oh, and start grabbing your share, fast.

    It made me think, if our politicians present us with this view of the world and we vote for them, where does the blame lie? Do we all live in a shark tank where these thought processes are tolerated to the point where they simply become ingrained? Are we so desensitised that we stop noticing, or are we mostly aware that ‘they’ think like that, even if ‘we’ don’t, but aren’t quite prepared to distance ourselves? Yes, we’re all too afraid of being one of the losers, even though we probably already are – ask yourself, did you pay zero tax last year?

    Perhaps we have become too accepting and not demanding enough of our government (and each other) knowing even reasonable expectations are unlikely ever to be met.

    * I obviously do not do this

    Derek Green,
    Managing Editor, The Westsider

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