Justifying Requests to Change Customary Behaviour

People may resent requests to change customary behaviour, so some justification needs to be offered in negotiations between ethnic groups. 

A compromise may have to be negotiated when different ethnic groups live side by side, and neither group wants to change, but they find each other’s behaviour unacceptable.

The positive reason for finding a compromise is that it is nicer for everyone to live in a friendly environment.  The Golden Rule – do not do to others what you would not want done to you – is a commandment of every religion ( and it is underpinned by most philosophies (4.2.3).

The other main reason is to avoid the risks of division.  The potential for conflict between ethnic groups is explored in a later section (4.4.5).  Horrific violence can be unleashed, as shown by the European Wars of Religion and what John Mearsheimer described as Death and Destruction in Gaza in 2023, but people are faced with uncomfortable choices long before that stage is reached:

●  People can try and protect themselves by employing private security services, as reviewed later (

●  The police can be given increased powers of surveillance (which can too easily be subverted by a government to create a ‘Police State’).

●  People can choose to live elsewhere, either by forming separate neighbourhoods (which make ethnic divisions more visible and permanent) or by leaving the country as refugees.

The unappetising nature of these defensive choices and the attractiveness of a friendly solution are sufficiently powerful reasons to motivate community leaders to negotiate the necessary compromises.  Some measures that can be taken to increase inclusivity are discussed at the end of this chapter (4.4.7).


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This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/4432.htm