Unrealistic expectations

To many of us the New Year brings new hope, new zeal – high expectations. With the best of intentions we make resolutions and in the midst of the season’s euphoria swear on the family bible that this time we will make good on the promise to ourselves. But as days turn into weeks and months our resolve dwindles – conditions change, the pressure of daily life looks much different from “inside” – a dose of reality strikes like lightning from the sky. The optimism we befriended becomes our worst enemy.

Well, there is always next year. Always next year!

And so it is with politicians – they are a microcosm of the population – no more, no less, human and fallible than the rest of us. Politicians though are perceived as the beast of a unique ilk; they carry the nation’s burden on their shoulders.

Those to whom much is given, much is expected. We have given them a mandate, they have wide latitude and we are merciless in our expectations. The heavy courtship and love affair throughout the campaign and all the right flirtatious words in the manifesto are the smoking guns aimed as we encircle and corral political caravans. None shall escape!

Do we have a double standard – one standard for ourselves year after year making resolutions that we are perfectly satisfied with not keeping, but holding politicians rigidly to promises often made under difficult and uncertain circumstances (hoping for the best) in an imperfect world?

We have much more control over our personal lives than politicians have over governing the country. They must deal with a bureaucratic culture that can severely constrain the adoption of campaign policies and timely delivery of critical services, or short-circuit or delay implementation of crucial social and infrastructural programs – not forgetting the inevitable heavy-handed influence of international donors and lenders.




Success depends on developing relationships of trust internationally over time and loyalty within the Civil Service, but John Public’s patience is thin and expects instant gratification. Our thoughts and actions seem to be robotically pre-programmed by state-of-the-art computer technology where everything is possible and with the press of a button the resources of government can instantaneously turn water into wine – miracles are passé. But we resist to the last man (or woman?) any move to tax – transfer necessary resources to government – unless we can personally benefit. Unrealistic expectations, be the judge.

Is it really a bad thing to have at a particular point and time expectations that seem unrealistic? President John Kennedy’s vision of landing a man on the Moon in ten years, at that point and time seemed an impossible task; he made it a reality. Creative thinkers strive for perfection and make the impossible possible.

The writer has created a simple Unrealistic Expectations definition chart: to the left, unspeakable selfishness; to the right, must always be perfect. Follow the Mathematical Chart to determine where you belong; left or right or somewhere in between.

Unspeakable Selfishness < Unrealistic Expectations < Must Always Be Perfect.

Rate yourself on a scale of -5 to +5: minus five (-5) unspeakable selfishness; plus five (+5) must always be perfect. Be honest, have fun! (-5 – 4 -3 -2 -1 – 0 +1+2 +3 +4 +5)

 

Kit Stonewalling

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