Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 4, 2009

The Long Blog: Its (our risk analysis) projection on unofficial level

Filed under: Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on November 4, 2009

Editorial Note:  This is the eighth in a series of posts on resilience as a proposed focus for a homeland security strategy.  This strategizing is organized around the approach taken by George Kennan in a seminal 1946 document.  Links to prior posts are provided below. 

An especially fruitful discussion took place related to Monday’s post (Please scroll immediately below today’s).  There is a chance the discussion will continue today and is worth your reading… and participation.


In the fourth of his five part Long Telegram, George Kennan addresses how Soviet neuroses play out in unofficial behavior. In the four prior posts I have set out how the US could reduce its neurotic stance on homeland security through official policy and strategy. 

But the effectiveness of the proposed measures depend on a range of unofficial attitudes and actions. Or — if not precisely unofficial — effectiveness depends on serious engagement with messy, subjective, very human attributes that “official” policy and strategy often seek to exclude.

I hope some readers have questioned or critiqued Monday’s post for failing to establish sufficiently rigorous standards for awarding the proposed federal grants. It would be even more satisfying to be challenged on the competence of the 500 electors to assess the grant requests.  (The number is based on the jury that convicted Socrates to death, a rhetorical gift to skeptics.)

Each of these concerns would reflect our current official norms. These norms emerged from a salutory process, now more than a century-old, to reduce the corrupt influence of personal preference and increase the role of expertise in making official decisions.  I perceive these norms and their related processes have reached a stage of rococo decrepitude.

The official norms now discourage community-based participation, collaboration, and deliberation.  Our official norms now stand in the way of the kind of communication and other behaviors that create resiliency.

In my last two posts (October 30 and November 2) I referenced a number of key attributes of resilient communities.  I did not deal with the potentially most important — and admittedly mysterious — attribute: Trust.

In studying the commons, and in distinguishing between common resources that are over-harvested and those sustainably harvested, trust has been identified as an essential attribute of successful self-organization. In the literature trust is sometimes characterized as requiring two elements: a shared set of preferences and expectations of future interactions.

This notion of trust makes enormous sense to a small town boy.  I work best with those who broadly share similar goals and with whom I expect to continue working.  I work best with my friends. (Consider Aristotle’s three different kinds of friends, with particular attention to the role of utility.)

But our official norms — well beyond homeland security — have become so neurotic that friendship is actively discouraged.  No wonder so many feel dissociated from our political culture, the process of governance, and — at worst — from reality itself.

In a paper written last year (and I understand in a recent book that I have not yet read) Elinor Ostrom explores the foundations of trust.  In the monograph, Building Trust to Solve Common Dilemmas: Taking Small Steps to Test an Evolving Theory of Collective Action, the Nobel winning Political Economist sets out that the following variables seem to be highly correlated with trust and cooperation:

Information about past actions is made available;
Repeated interactions occur with the same set of participants;
Participants can signal one another by sending pre-structured information;
Prescriptions are adopted and enforced that when followed do lead to higher outcomes;
Participants are able to engage in full communication (via writing or “chat room” without knowing the identity of the others involved);
Participants are able to engage in full communication with known others (via face-to-face discussions or other mechanisms);
In addition to communication, participants can sanction (or reward) each other for the past actions they have taken; and
Participants can design their own rules related to levels of cooperation and sanctions that are to be assigned to those who do not follow agreed-upon rules.

Dr. Ostrom also reports that three variables seem to be highly correlated with lack of cooperation and the absence of trust:

One-shot interactions;

Full anonymity—current actions taken by an individual cannot be attributed to that individual by anyone else; and

No information is available to one participant about the others involved.

Which set of variables more accurately represents your typical interaction with the Department of Homeland Security or other expressions of government? Perhaps we have the first clues for diagnosing the  sources of our political discontent.

Have our current norms and processes succeeded in excluding official corruption and cronyism?  No, they have not. But in a tragedy-inviting effort to control the bad, we have undermined the good. We have discouraged broad-based participation, collaboration, and deliberation.  We have discouraged effective communication.  We have become suspicious of friendship.

Our neurosis erupts in surprising ways and places. But we can resolve the neurosis with self-awareness, embracing the tragic, and self-consciously adopting the attitudes and behaviors most condusive to resilience.


Previous posts in this series:

The Long Blog:  A strategy of resilience (October 19)

The Long Blog: “Basic features” of US risk and resilience (October 21)

The Long Blog: Four preliminary deductions from seven premises (October 23)

The Long Blog: Background of this perspective on risk, the role of neurosis (October 26)

The Long Blog: Background of this perspective on risk, embracing the tragic to avoid the ironic (October 28)

The Long Blog: Its (our risk analysis) projection in practical policy on official level (October 30)

The Long Blog: Practical policy continued (November 2)

Depending on responses, challenges, suggestions and such from readers, this may be the penultimate post in this swan-song series.  I may be able to finish on Friday, November 6.  If so, I will offer some final reflections regarding the last nine months on Monday, November 9 and exit stage right.

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Comment by Philip J. Palin

November 4, 2009 @ 6:27 am


I am overly abstract. I would much prefer to quote Ostrom and Aristotle than tell a relevant story. Yet I know stories are almost always a more effective means of communications.

So… a quick story: Recently I had lunch with a friend, who is also a “senior federal official.” It had been a tough couple of weeks and had already been a tough morning.

Both his staff and his superiors are consistently demonstrating a lack of self-awareness or ability for self-criticism. They are defensive or worse in responding to outside criticism. They have no sense of the tragic (as outlined previously in the Long Blog). They do not even have a sufficient grasp of reality to see some occasional irony in their efforts. Pretty humorless bunch. Pretty detached from reality bunch.

As a result, they are totally persuaded of their own wisdom, their own value, and their own need to be in control. As a result, their proposed programs, strategies, and policies seek to narrow the authentic participation, collaboration, and deliberation of others. The staff and superiors are, instead, focused on compliance by others. And of course the others are not fully cooperating and, sometimes, being actively subversive. (Who’d a thunk?) As a result, my friend is constantly engaged in putting out fires, rather than planting trees.

I don’t think my friend had read the beginnings of the Long Blog (familiarity breeds contempt). But he was experiencing the warping of reality which Aristotle, Ostrom, Shakespeare, Buddha, Jesus and many others have so eloquently described. In alienating ourselves from the reality of our relations with one another and our context, we create an alternative and false reality that is deeply neurotic.

Not a very good story… no happy ending. But I think Aristotle, Ostrom, and others have given us the raw material for a happy ending, at least as good as Oedipus at Colonus… and much better than Lear or Richard III.

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 4, 2009 @ 3:23 pm

This is an amazing post and comment by the author on his own post. Congratulations as one with whom before too late wish to thank Phil for his efforts on this blog, his comments and insights. At first truthfully not quite sure where he was going (just as never quite sure where I am goingz) but the run of posts on Phil’s focus is really quite amazing and hoping a book or further refection post-blog may develop it. Yes, I am a believer that Phil has added a new depth to my understanding of Homeland Security so thank you and for putting up with my testiness to get more “real” from time-to-time. My thanks are based on the fact that while I really hate the term “Homeland Security” and would have preferred “Civil Security” this blog has certainly taught me a lot, entertained me and given me pause as to what I really think about the core issues facing the US on defense of the Homeland! So many thanks Phil for your insights and pushing me to think as opposed to just acting or acting out.

One paragraph in the post of great interest to me follows:

“Each of these concerns would reflect our current official norms. These norms emerged from a salutory process, now more than a century-old, to reduce the corrupt influence of personal preference and increase the role of expertise in making official decisions. I perceive these norms and their related processes have reached a stage of rococo decrepitude.”

Not certain of how rococo is being used but even without would tend to agree and this certainly is putting the proverbial finger on integration of “expertise” with policy. To that extent this blog has been “fun”, “entertaining”, helped me understand certain concepts and issues better and as always will disclose that I often have a quite different take on tnings from the official line. An article appeared today elsewere indicating that 75% of all Americans were inelgible for one reason or another for the military. Disclosure, I was drafted post-Law School and once a month Private, then specialist then 2nd and then 1st Lt Cumming would get a call asking if I did not want to become an Army JAG officer. Disclosure had two years of AF ROTC and dropped out knowing I wanted to go to grad school. Okay why this them? The military was much more of a formative experience for me than I realized in advance it would be. I wanted to go to Annapolis in the days before eyesight alone was a disqualifyer. Watching Victory at Sea with my DAD was a very formative experience for me. Anyhow in college two years of ROTC mandatory. When drafted went through basic training with 1/2 of Company OCS candidates to be and project 100K who were taken in by the military despite otherwise being in the ineligble 4th quartile of IQ etc. Did I enjoy my 2 years, 10 months, 4 days and 7 hours of active service? No but I did try to be useful. Served in FRG commanding a Pershing Unit and then inspected SASCOM units with 5 Warrent Officers. Did not serve in a combat zone except to help rescue American servicemen from some German BARS. Okay what is this about in reality?
Disclosure, my father was a civil servant. So second generation and really despite knowing the difficulties of his job, he was a supergrade, I never was wanted to help make the US a better place. When tranferred from running the Litigation Section in FEMA (burned out) in 1986 the then General Counsel was told face to face by the then Director, who had only months before departing, “Why did you do that? Cumming will be in our shit? The GC soon also to depart and knowing it said that is why I moved him” First revelation of this episode in Cumming’s civil service career. Why posting this comment and how relevant?

First because HOMELAND SECURITY is important. If our nation is to survive it must do so first of all in a Constitutional fashion. Second, it requires competencies of all including the politicians. Third, hoping but not sure at all that Phil’s conclusion in this post in incorrect. But basically I am an optimist and hoping the best days for our country are ahead not behind. So I appreciate the opportunity to comment on this interesting blog and thank the principal contributions and their willingness to listen to the sometimes unprofund scratchings of someone diagnosed only after age 50 as ADD. So thanks for letting me contribute and hoping the blog will go on. Hoping for the blog to continue and be “resilient”! And thanks for allowing me to post my sometimes meagre thoughts and comments on posts that certainly have helped stimulate my thinking on many HS subjects. May the blog go on! Thanks IBM Global or whatever orgs have supported it. And of course hoping that some readers have found the comments by me on some posts at least relevant and interesting if not always particularly apt. As this one is not. As always will mull over today’s post more and may have comments later.

Comment by Mark Chubb

November 4, 2009 @ 4:39 pm

Phil, from my point of view, your statement, “In the literature trust is sometimes characterized as requiring two elements: a shared set of preferences and expectations of future interactions,” strikes at the heart of the matter. In contrast to the Aristotelian utilitarian construction of friendship, but with a nod to Bacon’s reinterpretation of friendship’s utility to self, it is useful to note that trust depends not on an expectation of reciprocity, but rather on an expectation of consistency.

When the expected future behavior of others allows us to minimize our losses or pursue our own gains we can be said to derive utility from their actions. Clearly, we need not benefit directly from their efforts as we would when conducting transactions in markets. Likewise, others’ actions need not have any particular regard for our welfare, so long as we can count on them to continue taking actions in the future in ways that are consistent with their past decisions.

Clearly, a community of friends allows us to achieve our full potential by doing what we do best. As evidenced by the law of comparative advantage, markets obviously depend upon this assumption. Why it should come as a surprise to us that information and communication are integral to the effective function of governing as an extension of the commons has always mystified me.

Communities no less than markets define themselves (self-organize) around shared values. In markets, these values may be distinguished by price or quality or timeliness (availability). A society’s values tend to assume more subtle, complex, or nuanced forms than those at play in markets, but values are no the less important to the community’s proper function than they are to markets (cf. Rawls theory of justice).

The distrust in government that has become so abundant and pervasive in our society has many causes. Accepting the tragic is one way of putting these causes behind us by acknowledging the past without necessarily remedying past mistakes. This may indeed be a necessary condition of resilience, but as today’s post makes clear it alone is insufficient if we want to move ahead.

Trust does not depend upon avoiding the tragic in the future. Indeed, trust depends on replacing the tragedy of the commons (overharvesting) with two other tragedies: 1) sacrificing big short-term gains for small but more consistent long-term returns and 2) sharing sacrifice in the face of future shocks even when they result from others’ actions and involve no direct culpability whatsoever on our own parts. (By this construction then accepting the tragic still requires humility. But taking note of and paraphrasing part of Bacon’s critique of Aristotle, a friend won’t let another friend drive drunk—preventing our friends from making mistakes that could harm them, us, or have broader consequences for the commons is one of its essential functions, so indirect culpability may still exist.)

The Canadian author John Ralston Saul (Voltaire’s Bastards) wrote a scathing critique of the west’s infatuation with reason, particularly amongst its governing elites and prevailing institutional arrangements. He extended this critique in a subsequent tome he entitled the Collapse of Globalism. The very technologies that have contributed to the illusion of a shrinking and ever more interdependent world (flatter, hotter, more crowded a la Tom Friedman), have also contributed to an atomization of discourse and a fragmentation of society into tribal communities organized on common grounds that appeal more to our emotional rather than rational selves. We want to belong to communities that share our values, even if that means sharing relations with people thousands of miles from where we live while remaining oblivious to whom our neighbor is.

One of the principal functions of government, if I read your argument correctly, must be to redefine our common interests in homeland security in ways that encourage re-engagement with our neighbors. This means defining shared values, even if that means little more than working together to try and avoid future losses with full knowledge and awareness that they will despite our best efforts to work together.

This is a big step and strikes me as beyond our immediate reach. Giving one another the space to build trust may be more feasible. As such, respect may have to take the place of trust in the short-term for us to get where we need to go. Government can play an important role here in improving access for minority voices and expanding participation in agenda-setting. From where I sit, the current administration has already started to show signs of acting in ways broadly consistent with this view.

For this strategy to be effective, it we may have to look beyond the role of the executive branch in stimulating the change you seek. How do you see Congress and the judiciary (the SCOTUS in particular) engaging resilience as we’ve been defining it these past few days?

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 4, 2009 @ 8:15 pm

Wonderful comment by Mark! So the bundle of rods (joint action by citizenry?) is stronger that each individual rod? Interesting how many make money off of efforts to fragment, separate, and isolate members of the community, or that is my opinion. Example, funding of schools by property taxes–the rich get richer! Allowing critical funds for water systems to be diminished by privatized systems and bottled water! Allowing class room size in schools to grow to the point where individual effort and attention cannot be rewarded and given. The principal difference between all private funded education and publically funded education is guess what–class size! This is not equality but an excuse to reduce individual attention and effort. A shocking but I think accurate story appears many places today that 75% of potential recruits to the armed forces cannot qualify for a number of reasons. This should be a wake up call for those who spend their time fragmenting US society, making it less resilient, and profiting thereby. Should there be income limits on the gains of those on Wall Street who only survive because of the commons? Should there be limit on salaries for those who work in institutions funded by the public through tax deductions? Who in fact is gaining from the fragmentation of our society into market slices? Is there a difference between those who benefit by manipulation of the system for their own benefit and those who support such manipulation? By the way yesterday my STATE Delegate Albert Pollard that I did vote for won by one (1) vote over his opponent. He won by the way on a theme of unifying OUR effort while his opponent lost on the basis of reinforcing divisions in our society. So again what is resilience–when the many can reach agreement and be led to achieve more than each individual but yet respecting the individual and their choices.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

November 4, 2009 @ 8:34 pm

One of the reasons I am leaving the blog is related to my increasing unease with “one-shot” encounters on important topics. With full respect for tactical techniques and the role of luck, I perceive a more fully developed strategic approach is almost always better.

Blogging three or more times a week and trying to keep up with the full range of tactical, operational and political issues does not leave sufficient time for the sort of strategic reflection undertaken over the last three weeks. But it is also true that without a remarkable surge of readers for Dee Walker’s wonderful piece on TSA searches, blog readership would have declined significantly over these three weeks. My interests are not well-calibrated with what most readers find valuable.

Especially in that context I want to express my appreciation for each of you who have stuck-it-out and, especially, to those who have contributed comments, questions, and concerns. A personal note of thanks to Bill Cumming. Over the last nine months Bill often made the only comment to many posts. And what comments! I know several readers who find his replies the biggest draw of the blog.

Especially for a voluntary intellectual activity such as blogging, feedback is enormously helpful. Postive, negative, or just a question opens possibilities that no writer/thinker can ever develop simply on his or her own. Shared participation, collaboration, and deliberation is needed for blogging too.

Mark’s focus on “reengaging with our neighbors” does capture a key aspect of resilience. It is striking to me that he characterizes this as a big step that may be beyond our reach.

I am too tired this evening to take on Mark’s inquiry about broader governmental attitudes toward resilience. Clearly this is important. But I will offer I do not believe the federal government is the strategic center of gravity for this effort. Resiilence must become an authentically community-based, neighborhood-anchored strategy, very bottom-up rather than top-down.

Comment by Mark Chubb

November 5, 2009 @ 12:11 am

Having spent most of my working life either working in local government or supporting it, I have to agree that the best chance for the change envisioned by this discussion lies in a bottom-up approach. Nevertheless, I have enough experience there to wonder whether we can achieve critical mass without some serious support from the center in the form of federal and state support for such a program.

Obviously, Phil, you see such support as vital too. A grant program can be the sort of strategic impetus that will not just get the ball rolling but keep it moving too. I appreciate the historical and literary allusion to Socarates’ jury, but even a jury of 500 with no long-term vested interest in the process as opposed to the outcome can become a captive special interest in a surprisingly short time.

When they avoid capture themselves, they almost always capture the bureaucrats, the process, or both, as as seems to be the case with many of the current grant programs where representatives of the target constituency hold considerable sway in the award process. In my opinion, we have more or less put the inmates in charge of the asylum when it comes to AFG, SAFER, and FP&S grants to fire departments as just one example. (Please accept my apologies in advance for using such an inept and potentially offensive analogy. At this hour, though, I too am fading and having great difficulty thinking of a more appropriate analogy.)

The devil as they say will be in the details in this like any other major policy proposal. I am happy with where the discussion these past few days has got us, and wonder now what it will take to get real traction.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

November 5, 2009 @ 1:17 pm

I have been thinking more about Mark’s sense that engaging our neighbors is such a serious challenge. With that challenge in mind, I want to add to the Long Blog’s “resilience collection” a prior post entitled Aunt Mae or George Orwell.

I will also add a story, from five years ago instead of fifty. My wife and I live on a Blue Ridge mountain-top. Five years ago we still had two teenagers in the house (most nights).

Down the road in a doublewide was a family whose husband and father had committed suicide. He had been accused of molesting his younger daughter. We didn’t know the widow or children well, but helped clear snow or something similar from time to time.

About a year after the suicide, the widow’s sister and her teenage son moved into the doublewide. Occasionally I would give all the children a ride to the school bus when driving my kids the half-mile down the mountain to the county road. It was the barest of relationships, little more than proximity.

One autumn evening about dusk I was home alone and there was frantic knocking. When I opened the door there was the sixth grade daughter of the widow, the daughter’s 14 or 15 year-old male cousin, and two friends, probably falling in age between the cousins.

“Please let us in,” the youngest pleaded. Once inside they explained that the youngest had gotten angry at her cousin — over what I no longer recall — and had, in furtherance of a threat, called the sheriff to report he was sexually abusing her. She confirmed for me this was not true, and I believed both her and her cousin’s body language.

She had quickly realized her error and called the sheriff to recant. But deputies had, of course, already been dispatched and would not be recalled.

“If they find us at home alone, they’ll take us away from our Mom’s. We’ve got to hide.”

I had a few more questions and gave them each a diet Coke. I finally persuaded them that we should all go back to their house. When we stepped out the door, I could see through the leafless trees two sheriff cars pulling up at the house about 100 yards down the mountain. We took a short cut through the woods.

I am not well-known in the county. But fortunately the deputies were very well-acquainted with the doublewide. “We’re here at least once a week,” the twenty-something deputy explained.

With the neighbor children out of ear-shot I explained their fears. I agreed to let the children stay with me until one of the mother’s returned. The deputies concurred. I don’t remember now if they radioed into a supervisor or not. In any case, it was all resolved very quickly.

When I later told this story to a senior state police official he responded, “In most jurisdictions you would have all gotten taken in.”

The relevance to homeland security may seem a stretch. But over the last several weeks I have been working with law enforcement and the private sector in a major urban jurisdiction on the issue of “tiered response.” The private sector is consciously not reporting the vast majority of threat information because of a perception of law enforcement over-reaction.

In both the rural context I set out above and in the urban context in which I have been working, the information environment is very ambivalent. But somehow the twenty-something small town deputy was both competent and — perhaps more importantly — empowered to tier his response, in a way that many graduate-educated, urban police professionals may not be.

I am not certain how to explain the difference, but I hypothesize it has something to do with Ostrom’s variables that predict trust and cooperation.

Comment by Mark Chubb

November 5, 2009 @ 11:44 pm

Phil, stories like the one you recount from personal experience concerning the understanding young police officer are both profound and more commonplace than I think most of us realize. In the early 1980s, Lipsky characterized this sort of action as “street-level bureaucracy” and explored the individual and organizational conditions necessary for it to flourish. (Denhardt and later Denhardt and Campbell have also explored the same subject more recently, recasting it as “street-level leadership”. All of these authors have noted the tendency to apply discretion in one form or another is especially prevalent among police.)

As boundary actors, those on the front lines and those at the top organizations are always in the best position to apply discretion. But the nature and type of discretion required and available to individuals varies greatly depending upon their roles and the situations in which they find themselves.

In any bureaucracy (large or small), people either have discretion over process or outcome. From time-to-time, they might have some discretion in both of these areas, but it is always limited to a greater extent that when more is available in one but not the other area.

My reservations don’t reflect the inability of those on the front lines to apply discretion. Rather, I am concerned that they don’t appreciate the circumstances under which they use it well enough to see how they can use this capacity differently to promote resilience. (This experience comes from teaching this stuff to cops and firefighters for a few years now. The mid-level and up-and-coming executives I teach almost routinely seems surprised to learn that we have observed and studied this behavior among their peers. They come across as even more shocked when we suggest they should apply these insights to improve the use of discretion within their organizations.)

Most of the cops and firefighters I interact with are very concerned with consistency, but not in the constructive way we’ve been discussing it as a predicate to trust. It’s often either disconnected from the notion of quality or recognizes only a certain quality as desirable (usually their own notion of what’s right). Consistency for them is often about reducing uncertainty, and all but ignores the fact that the situations in which discretion is most useful are those in which ambiguity not uncertainty is most prevalent. As such, these situations have no right or wrong solutions.

The first tragedy we have to acknowledge, then, is that much of what we expect of public officials does bot rightly involve problem-solving, but is rather more about engaging dilemmas. As such, we’re not looking for solutions. In fact, attempting to apply solutions often just creates new problems. (The Buddha is neither alive nor dead. The Buddha simply is.)

If we want the public to trust us, we need to see consistency as a way of improving outcomes or process rather than simply a way of avoiding conflict with the public. Conflict avoidance does little either to test or build resilience.

What I am trying to say here, and what your story illustrates so well, is that it was HOW the officer acted, not WHAT he did (or didn’t do) that made a difference in the situation. Getting public officials to focus on how rather than what is really hard to do largely because it’s so damn difficult to measure.

I try to overcome this with my students by making discretion the what. This means they have to focus on how they operationalize and delegate the how. (Will you give your subordinates more control over process or outcome? Under what circumstances will this vary? When is it appropriate to restrain one but not the other? Under what circumstances, if any, does an officer lack discretion over either process or outcome?)

The public for its part would like to know government officials take account of their values and inputs when making decisions. But they can hardly know whether we heard much less understood what they had to say by simply looking at whether we acted in a fashion consistent with their suggestion. Indeed, they may not expect anything more than consideration of their point of view, rather than action consistent with it.

People know their individual perspective is just one of many that have to be taken into account. And while they make seek to amplify the influence of their opinion by engaging in interest group politics or other mechanisms to encourage change, they nonetheless have limited time and resources to devote to the process. Government officials for their part have done a rather poor job of engaging the public on important questions, often limiting engagement to talking at people rather than with them and complaining about interest group influence rather than seeking to leverage it to explore alternative perspectives.

In the few situations I see where people are given a chance to influence government decisions, the decisions usually don’t involve things people care deeply about. (This has admittedly begin to change, but often in ways that are still very difficult to appreciate.) In other words the important decisions have often already been made, and public input is used as window dressing for a flawed, even undemocratic decision process. Hanging curtains on a wall does not make a window magically appear.

I think you’ve already made the point well, and I am in fundamental agreement with it: This sort of engagement, genuine dialogue, is needed if we are to form the relationships required yo achieve and sustain resilience. Such dialogue depends upon trust. But this presents us with a chicken and egg dilemma, the response to which is simply making a start of it. Taking the time and expending the effort to respect others and let them know their voices are heard can make a huge difference all by itself.

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