It's curious how everything comes together sometimes to make a principle of behaviour very clear.
Right now I am in far north Australia engaging with friends, relatives and many strangers in a variety of situations - some routine and some extremely stressful.
I notice one behaviour standing out as essential to good functioning society: the principle of basic civility.
Most of us teach our children the value of courtesy, of please and thank you, a smile or compliment perhaps - which one friend calls social margarine, costing nothing yet greasing the wheels of life for everyone's benefit.
Disasters like the recent bushfires, and even potential disasters, make strangers into friends, as if the worst of times brings out the best in us. I am hearing reports of our local stories of goodness and compassion even thousands of kilometres from our east coast trauma. I see it anytime people rush to help injured strangers.
Why, then, do some people act as if the way to win is with rudeness, being pushy and selfishly demanding regardless of the well-known benefits of common courtesy?
In reality, such behaviour never leads to respect of the rude one or a want to help, but rather to withdraw and even lash back, until the cycle of abusing each other escalates.
It's a huge challenge I often feel as a councillor when encountering abuse, threats and bullying - as if such behaviour could force councillors into submission. In reality, the lack of civility just makes me less inclined to go the extra mile.
I cannot respect abusive behaviour. As a society we should know not to reward bullies.
For some, being simply courteous seems too much to ask. But we can at least butter the situation with civility in response - and expect the same of our leaders if it's a constructive society we're after.
Cr Intemann's stories from a civic heart are her opinions and not necessarily council's.