In a letter submitted as evidence to the three-member review council on Tuesday, Johnston wrote: "At the time of the incidents which bring me before this council, I was simply not myself," citing the end of his 35-year marriage , trouble controlling his diabetes, nausea, disorientation, chest pains and a mild heart attack, as "context" for his bad behaviour.
I'm sure nobody is paying attention the number of similar stories that pop up regularly in the headlines and are connecting the dots between them - John Duffy, Chris Mazza, War Roomers being particularly nasty because of personal problems, a limbic Mayor, a functionally fixed political leader, etc.
We expect people to be super-human, to switch off home life at 9 and switch it back on at 5, like worked back in the days of mindless assembly-line work. Only nobody works 9 to 5 any more and the work we do isn't mechanical, it's cognitive.
Across the board we are doing such a poor job of understanding and working with the reality of cognitive labour, despite the evidence-based best practices that exist for doing it better. Attitude, personality, confidence, delusion, stigma all get in the way of real solutions for real people from the top to the bottom of society.
It's not they that's the problem, folks. There is no they - there is only we.
We are the problem - our reactive ignorance, our insistence on low-hanging fruit, narrow focus, short-term wins over long-term solutions and our belief that power is a pyramid and that everyone at the bottom has to come all the way to those at the top.
Justice Johnston ruined lives because of things that impacted his choices. Some were physical, some were experiential, but they were all present. If the context behind his choices had been understood - if he was able to step back and assess his state of mind while making decisions - things would have been different.
That's the case for the defendants, too. It's the case for every bone-headed decision made by any person, ever.
Theory of mind, social-emotional regulation, EQ, empathy, communication, consciousness.
We simply have to do a better job at all of these. We all do.