Tuesday, March 12, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 106



Expectations beget disappointment

Lema Mousilli

How much easier would it be to expect less or nothing out of people? Would it not hurt less when they fall short of those "expectations" or fail to meet them

If only we could live without expecting anything. A life without expectations.

Who was it that once said something like, "I envy he who expects nothing for he is never disappointed?" 

If one reflects on the idea for a moment, the ingenuity of the proposal is truly overwhelming. Say, for example, that you show up to your nine-to-five job, clock in as
normal, perform your duties and leave work each day without the slightest expectation of monetary compensation for your services.

At the end of the week you're presented with a sealed envelope which, upon opening, you discover to your infinite delight is a check made payable to you.

How much more fulfilling is that as opposed to expecting a paycheck at the end of the week and perhaps suffering the setback of not getting paid for some reason or
other ("The accountant was sick," "The computer erred," "You'll have to wait until next week," "insert new b.s. excuse here," etc).

Arguably, there is no more damning feeling than disappointment, which is often the result of expectation. Expectation is a very devious phenomenon, which often
dwells in the same vicinity as disappointment.

It is quite possible that there is nothing as cunning as expectation, since it comes in so many shapes, sizes and disguises, and can with much ease slip into the cracks
of the human mind and slowly ferment without anyone even suspecting its lurking existence. Quite suddenly we find ourselves building subconscious expectations of
people and things.

We haphazardly expect people to embody everything from morals to empathy to perhaps even feelings of mutual love. We tend to precariously expect a Christmas
bonus each year, or a raise in two years, or a promotion in five. Then, when for some reason or other, we realize our expectations are too lofty and consequently
unfulfilled, we tend toward sadness, anger or disillusionment depending on the severity of the matter.

Heartbreaks, for example, are always the carefully nurtured offspring of expectations. How often does one person care for another, regrettably, too deeply only to be
wounded when expectations of fidelity or reciprocated affection are shattered?

Wouldn't it be easier for people not to expect loyalty or feelings of caring from loved ones, thereby being surprisingly pleased when it does happen, but not displeased
when it doesn't? Couldn't we save ourselves from the brutal pangs of heartbreak by dissolving all expectations?

This proposal may even help out immensely in regards to civics and world affairs. For some inexplicable reason we tend to hold states of government to these same,
or higher, levels of expectation. If history is to teach us anything, it is that such trust is even more misplaced than that granted to our fellow man. It may be this exact
realization that spurned the boding statement of critics of government when they realized the limitations of any system not "governed by angels."

Why should we expect governments to live morally, fight morally, embody democratic values or abide by international laws? It has become far too commonplace to
hear of innocent civilians massacred by state-sponsored militia, or a populace having its land occupied for 30-odd years, or a superpower refusing to abide by the
Geneva Conventions.

Is it fair not to expect states to let their policies toward fundamental human rights be motivated by oil interests or pushing forward the banner of freedom to allow
another people to live lives complete with Happy Meals and Britney Spears?

Why should we not expect that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provisions be open to barter by a free-market system of negotiations? Aren't the 4.6 million
exiled Palestinians (the world's largest refugee population), for example, expecting too much when they dream of returning to their occupied homes?

Someone should serve a jolt of reality to all those hopeless romantics living in refugee camps, those starry-eyed philosophers who spew useless rhetoric about ethics,
and especially those overzealous human rights activists to check their unreasonable expectations.

Mousilli, a senior English and political
science major, can be reached at lema@mousilli.com.

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