We Assume Too Much And Pay Dearly For It
All the evidence that we have indicates that it is reasonable to assume in practically every human being, and certainly in almost every newborn baby, that there is an active will toward health, an impulse towards growth, or towards the actualization.
– Abraham Maslow, American professor of psychology, creator of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1908-1970)
We assume. We assume. We assume.
We can’t get through life without making assumptions that certain things will remain in order, that there is a structure of life and matter that won’t suddenly change on us, that someone won’t stab us in the back when we aren’t paying attention.
We require those assumptions in order that we can carry on our lives and concentrate on the business at hand. Of course life–indeed, existence–does not follow our need for assumptions that things won’t change on us too dramatically. Nature, like luck, can be brutal.
Japan studied its seismic history and since the 1970s built structures to last, based on earthquakes that had affected the country in the previous 400 years. For the most part, modern buildings survived the 9.0 quake of 2011. However, protective seawalls were overwhelmed and 20,000 people lost their lives in the tsunami that followed. The 9.0 earthquake, among the strongest in modern history, follows a pattern that only strikes about every 1000 years.
The Japanese government assumed that studying 400 years of history was enough. Not enough to account for a cycle of at least 1000 years.
We assume, those of us who marry, that “till death us do part” means forever, that our partner will never leave. We do not assume that the commitment means that both parties must work to maintain the relationship every single day or it will fall apart. We assume it’s a forever commitment, at least on the part of the other person in the relationship.
We assume that “for better or for worse” are only words, that the “worse” part won’t be any worse than it was before the wedding. When the relationship is required to endure a whole lot worse than that, trouble starts.
We assume that sex with our partner will be as gratifying and as fulfilling–maybe even improve with experience through the years–as it was before the wedding. The sex drive can be impacted for many reasons, both internal and external. The partner who is not affected–needing more–looks for satisfaction elsewhere. The partner who is affected assumes the relationship will continue, unaffected, because of a commitment of a few words spoken during a ceremony. The vows say nothing about sexual commitment.
We buy food at a market assuming that it will be tested safe. Chemical fertilizers, pesticides and preservatives in all foods have been shown to be unsafe for health over a long term. Fresh produce, advised by all health professionals to be the healthiest foods of all, are heavily laced with chemicals, even preservatives to keep them from spoiling.
We assume that preservatives that keep our food from spoiling are safe. They are, for food sitting on a shelf. Inside our bodies they also preserve our food from decay, which is exactly the opposite of what we want. Our body detects whole fats and automatically stores them in fat cells. Result: obesity in people with efficient digestive systems, even if they do not overeat.
We assume that by visiting a medical doctor when we are not well, or even for a regular checkup when we feel well, the doctor will provide us with the best care. Yet some doctors take money from drug companies when they prescribe drugs from one of them. Some of the drugs, such as statins to counteract cholesterol, become lifelong commitments when there are safer and healthier alternatives available (including common mineral niacin and exercise).
We assume that what we wear and our cosmetics will enhance our status among our workmates or acquaintances, as we have been taught by commercial interests. In general, virtually no one cares what we look like, except maybe a boss if we dress inappropriately. We just believe that others care.
We assume that the vehicle we drive will somehow deliver a message to others that we have a personal value greater than we know we have. Again, no one else cares.
We assume that people we associate with often are friends. As soon as we have a serious problem, they are nowhere to be found. Casual friendships exist when people have something to gain by associating with us, or us with them. True friendships are hard to make, take years to build, and true friends don’t care about trivial matters and will stand with you through your worst troubles. Simply assuming that someone is a good friend may be plain wrong.
We assume that those who mean the most to us will be with us forever, so we take less care with them than with acquaintances who can help us in the short term. When those loved ones die, we aren’t prepared for the loss and often suffer ourselves as a consequence. We assumed they would be with us forever.
We assume that our religious leaders teach us facts and truths beyond reproach. Most is just fantasy or wishful thinking, sometimes even an effort to control our mind. Just examine the “truths” taught from the pulpits of various Christian denominations to learn how greatly they vary, though they all claim to use the same holy book.
We make countless assumptions to get us through our lives. Some help us to get through the day, or night. Every assumption has a consequence if something does not work the way we had assumed. If we don’t consider the consequences of our assumptions, we pay a price later.
Children should be taught about consequences of their assumptions. Risky behaviour, for example, could result in early death. Unwise behaviour in their youth will inevitably result in bad health in later years.
Who should teach this Law of Consequences? Parents? Teachers? Relatives? Neighbours? Friends?
Yes. Children who do not understand the Law of Consequences, who make assumptions that are unwise, suffer huge setbacks later, if they survive. We pass laws to protect children, then ignore the laws. Many parents are not aware of the laws that should guide them through parenthood. No one taught them how to be parents. They figured out the conceiving part themselves. The rest they guess and learn by accident (sometimes).
Every adult has a responsibility to each child he or she knows. The degree of responsibility will vary from one child to another. The need for commitment will not.
There is an old saying: it takes a village to raise a child. Our ancestors knew that. Today’s kids don’t have that village. We need to help them avoid the deficit. They need to learn. We need to teach.
Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book for parents, teachers, for all adults, who want to help children grow to be responsible, to lead well balanced lives.
Learn more at http://billallin.com