JournalismPakistan.com December 21, 2017
You know what is the cause of much of our problems? We assume. And then when our assumption fails to float we go into shock and dismay because the raft of expectations comes apart.
Take for example payments. We assume that someone who owes us will pay us but that payment does not come, he reneges on it and we have no plan B so what happens, we are suddenly up the creek because we had assumed this money would roll in on time and now it is not manifesting itself and there is rage and disbelief that this person or company with this spotless record has gone spotty on you.
You wave this little piece of paper in your hand which is called a contract and what do you do with it, wallpaper your bedroom. It is even worse when you have been sincere in your efforts and now you are holding the thin edge of the wedge and wondering how you got rooked.
Someone just did the dirty on me. He not only broke his promise he used his power and his position to completely back off his contractual obligation with the arrogance and unmitigated conceit of the socially ‘untouchables.’
What does one do? Call incessantly, hoping he will regain sanity and cough up. Hire a lawyer and put a case because you have the documentation? Speak to common friends, most of whom don’t give a damn really and would enjoy the confrontation.
Because of one false assumption, others who were involved in the project are stuck for their final payments and the domino principle is having fun at your expense.
I made the mistake of taking the goodness for granted. He said he was a good man, the world still says he is a good man, he packages himself as a sweetheart wrapped in humility. I believed it so I didn’t prepare for a negative eventuality and now I am paying the price instead of him.
We do it at work. We assume there will be fair play and when we are knifed by colleagues and taken to the cleaners we cannot wrap our heads around it. It was not supposed to be like this, no one can be such a lot of nasty and yet they are and they get away with it. You are sideswiped and put to farm, superseded, cut down, whatever, and you never saw it coming because you assumed that everyone would do things the right way.
Just like we assume everyone on the road will obey the rules and drive safely except they do not and there goes your fender.
We assume our friends, our partners, our loved ones will act according to a certain pattern and code of conduct and we are derailed when they do not.
The major issue with the human inclination for living by their assumptions is that they do not come with even a shred of evidence. Nothing to indicate that what we believe so fervently will happen happens. Incorrect assumptions are the cause of every failed enterprise.
Much of this ingrained attitude is inculcated in us at childhood. We are taught how to behave, what our reactions should be to specific situations and we grow up following them. It becomes part of our DNA. Like with anything else, everyone does not march to the same drumbeat. Those who did not absorb the lessons disrupt the flow as we expect it to be and that is our folly. Because with assumption comes the close cousin called expectation and together they spawn oceans of disappointment.
Assumptions over inanimate objects like electricity, vehicles, gadgets, technical doodahs and the like are derived from manuals and pamphlets and we take them as gospel. The same for medicines…we assume they will do good by us and are mortified when they do not.
Chances are these will not let us down as much as human beings who are perhaps way down there compared to other living creatures whose conduct is predictable.
Yet, because we want so much to believe in the good in all of us we assume that a certain person will behave in a certain way. We assume the businessman will be honest, that the journalist will report the truth, the judge will fight for justice, the sportsman will not cheat, the pilot will fly a true course and the soldier will be brave.
If you saw MASH, a hilarious series on war Alan Alda says: Your assumptions are windows into your life. Scrub them clean every now and then or else they will not let you see the world.
You see, the other cousin is speculation. We spend much of our waking time speculating. Take money. If I get this bonus then I can pay off the credit card and if that payment comes in by Monday we can pay off the rent and have a little spare and the wolf can be kept away from the door if we ask the bank for an overdraft facility, oh boy we are home dry.
Except that one little brick comes loose and the whole edifice collapses.
So what is the solution? Simple. The difficult path. Don’t assume anything. If it happens according to plan great. If it doesn’t have a plan B and C and D and especially one that compensates for the gaping wound of betrayal and deceit.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
Daily Times, December 24, 2017