Expectation is a dangerous thing.
I expected someone to turn up at the cafe today so, when they didn’t, my mood became more negative from simply this abstract potential which was not realised.
I have a friend who, due to a strange lifestyle, my expectations and no fault of his own, I am beginning to think of as Mr. Disappointing.
On a personal level this can be distressing. On a national or global level, this can be disastrous.
I am thinking of political leaders the world over.
To become a leader of a democratic nation you must be voted in. Being voted in means you must advertise yourself. The person who convinces the most people that they will do the most good in the world becomes leader.
So our leaders speak through our televisions and radios and tell us that they’re going to improve the health system, the education system, the livelihoods of farmers, reduce the taxes on the poor and not raise the taxes on the rich.
The person who convinces the majority that they will do the most – and cost the general population the least – seems to win.
We have therefore put our leaders in an impossible position.
We select a leader who we expect to give us the most and our disappointment is reflected equally.
Obama was put on the highest pedestal and millions of people ecstatically screamed to the world how he was going to be the saviour of America.
What else was he going to do, but disappoint in some way?
Australia is quite lucky in this respect.
We expect to have a dismal leader, we get one and we collectively think, “Oh well, bloody lucky we didn’t get the other tosser.”
But sustainability attempts have become victim to expectation as well.
New plans are proposed and, to be allowed funding, must state why they are so wonderful – solar panels on the roof, carbon offsetting, wind farms – and inevitably they are only first steps. They are trying, but they’re not going to solve the world’s problems single handedly.
But, sure enough, we are disappointed. But we would never have invested in the plan in the first place without our high expectations.
So what do we do?
Would a politician ever be elected if they stood up and spoke the truth?
“Yes, We Can” is a much better catchphrase then “Well, it will take at least 20 years, many of you won’t see the results and will have to invest much more time and money than you are currently, and it may still all go tits up anyway.”