Time to Change our Assumptions?

Participating in Hair for Hope has given me a bald head.

It has also given me odd looks from strangers, as well as a couple of bizarre encounters.

One of the strangest happened when an elderly lady walked up to me, placed her hand on my shoulder and said “I will pray for God to heal you.”

I was a bit puzzled over her behavior until someone explained to me that the woman, a cancer survivor had probably thought that I was undergoing chemotherapy.

The kind lady had assumed that I had lost all my hair due to cancer treatment.

We all make assumptions about things.

Some assumptions are based on facts, some on our prior experiences, and some on our perception about stuff that have touched us in one way or another.

We assume that Donald Trump won’t go far in his campaign for US presidency – well, Trump, the crass demagogue, surprised everyone by being the leading candidate among the Republicans.

We assume that children will be filial – well, the multitudes of old and aged parents being ignored while their children live it up in fancy restaurants sure shatters that assumption.

We assume that people who have experienced forgiveness – recipients of grace – would forgive others – well, many of these lucky losers aren’t willing to even give others the time of day.

We assume that “brand name” and overpriced consulting firms like McKinsey will be operating on high moral grounds – well, an ex-McKinsey CEO went to jail for insider training!

We assume that presidents will possess a sense of propriety and know how to behave – well, look at Bill Clinton and what he did with Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office.

We assume that if 500,000 people rally in the streets for two days, screaming for you to step down, you would do the honorable thing and resign – well, despite being the most hated man in Malaysia, Najib is still clinging on to shreds of power.

We assume that those with a punishing work-related travel schedule would want to spend time with their spouses and kids when they are back in their home country – well, we assume wrongly, some of these road warriors still behave as if they are not married.

We assume that aid will pour out to prevent children from dying (30,000 kids die from hunger daily) and countries will not turn away boatloads of refugees fleeing Syria (where 10,000 children have already died from the conflicts there) – well, the world would rather mourn for a lion, until children’s dead bodies started washing up on beaches.

We assume that people in academia are civilized – well, universities and colleges house some of the most back-biting, political, bitchy and rude people in the world.

We assume that Buddhists are peace loving – well, in Myanmar, Buddhist monks are leading the charge in the killing of Muslims and Buddhist clergy has convinced the government to legalize discrimination against women and minorities.

We assume that police will do their job – well, in Thailand, the cops rewarded themselves three million bahts for nabbing a bombing suspect. (Since when do cops need extra incentives just to do what is their job anyway?)

We assume that police chiefs aren’t paid much – well, Thai police chief General Somyot Poompanmoung said “One million baht (of the three million) comes from me.”

(Before his appointment as police chief after last year’s coup Somyot declared his assets at US$11.5 million including income from advising companies as well as property holdings and investments.) We assume that police chiefs don’t, won’t and can’t freelance as private advisors or property investors – well, obviously our assumptions are erroneous.

Jerry Belson said that his teacher in a typewriter repair class once told him “Never ASSUME, because when you ASSUME, you make an ASS of U and ME.”

I’ve known for years that Belson’s teacher was spot on!