Curse of Elevated Expectations

My best friend speaks of the “curse of elevated expectations” , when discussing relationships. Actually, he is more inclined to speak of the “curse of expectations”, period. The idea that it is very unwise to anticipate that any behaviours will be in accordance with one’s expectations. People do not act as one might wish them to. Futile to anticipate otherwise.

Curse seems to be everywhere. Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was subject to elevated expectations. Once the expectations start to be unfulfilled, the disappointment is much larger, and the comedown much harder. Going from two majority governments to two seats in the House of Commons, in a period of nine years.

Same expectation curse, perhaps, with President Obama. Seems like a great motivational speaker, but then unfulfilled expectations on the delivery. The higher the expectations, the greater the possibility of disappointment.

Curse seems to also be there with protest movements favouring democratic political change. Already in Tunisia, some people call for the removal of the interim government. Already in Egypt, some people call for the army to not be part of the interim government. Change not in accordance with expectations.

And already in Libya, there is military-supported regime resistance against demonstrators. No rubber bullets. Change not in accordance with expectations.

One of my academic colleagues was in Iran both before and after the fall of the Shah in January of 1979, followed by the overthrow of the provisional civilian government by Ayatollah Khomeini, barely weeks later. My academic colleague left when the Khomeini regime became unfriendly towards him. To say the least. Left rather quickly, with $500 U.S. and little else, as he was facing arrest. When the Tiananmen Square massacre happened ten years later, in 1989, he commented that perhaps the same thing would have been better for Iran.

There, as in China, as in much of the Arab world now, much of the protest is from disaffected and disenfranchised youth. Unlike in the Shah’s Iran, the government of China was able to appeal to the army to maintain civil order, at great cost of life. One major blow to forces for democratic change, a night of many deaths, followed by weeks of international condemnation and then…well, and then the China that most governments appear to accept today.

Transition to any Chinese democracy being slow-moving, but where the extent of the disenfranchised is not as apparent. Maybe hidden in the countryside, waiting for work in the cities. Any thought of mimicking the Arab uprisings being strictly controlled through strict control of social media, among other measures.

An army particularly loyal to the existing Chinese regime, unlike in Tunisia and Egypt. In Libya, seems that the army has split loyalties, hence the firing on civilians. And in terms of expectations in modern-day Iran…or Ukraine…or south Sudan…or Eritrea

Expectations involving a particular form of cancer, often aggravated through perceived necessity as to speed of action. Causes lots of hobbled walks. Sometimes very rapid healing through slight slowdown. One form of the healing game.
Postscript, September 28, 2011: And in Libya, where the United Nations and various western countries, such as Great Britain, France and Canada, were so quick to embrace the Libyan insurgents, it turns out that the apparently victorious insurgents can’t yet agree on even an interim governing council.

About brucelarochelle
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1 Response to Curse of Elevated Expectations

  1. When I was growing up, my mother impressed me with the understanding that I was special: intelligent, or creative, or whatever. Great things were expected. When I was in high school, we were supposed to all be “the best and the brightest”, as used to be said about JFK and his cronies. Yet they sent the police after us, when they thought we might be drinking.

    I bet every mother says that to and/or about her child. Every group of teachers hopes to have contributed to some important accomplishment by people they have helped to educate. I am sure it was not just me singled out, but just about everyone, in some way.

    And if you are not special, if you merge into the obscurity and outstanding-less-ness of the sweating masses, then you suffer the fate of most of us, to disappear into the wasteland of failed dreams and forgotten identities of history. Gone. Forgotten, in a generation, or three.

    So, given half a chance, people tend to overreach: Justin Trudeau, Obama, (me). And, given by definition that most of us are average in our ability to be impressed, it’s the most average who are most acclaimed, as well as the best circus performers, like Justin Trudeau’s father Pierre – the best showman of our parents’ generation.

    My mother didn’t do me any favors. She highlighted my failure to rise above…what? Myself? And I think the lesson of Christ is that it’s our relationships with others that are the most important; not our “actual” “objective” “accomplishments”. I guess we’ll see, on the Day of Judgment.

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