Expectations beget disappointment
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
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 email@example.com.