A Better Set of Expectations
David W. Hegg
We live in a society where everyone has expectations of everyone around them. But maybe it’s time we all took a breath, hit the pause button on our fixation on what others think and how they behave, and ask some simple questions of ourselves. Two questions will help get us started. First, what do we have a right to expect? Second, how should we react when our expectations go unmet?
A rabidly growing problem in this society is that we believe we are entitled to so much. In fact, part of the soaring national budget is labeled simply as “entitlements.” We’ve become accustomed to expecting that our needs as well as our wants and dreams should be the focus of the world around us. We’ve made ourselves the center of the universe and are quite disappointed, and even offended, when the words and actions of others don’t live up to our expectations.
Another part of the problem is just how easily we as a culture are offended. Recently we’ve had multiple examples that our national sensitivity level seems to be that of a third grader. We’ve made our wellbeing, our peace of mind, and our personal belief system the law for those around us, and when they break that law, we believe we have the right to be outraged and compensated, while consigning the offender to the trash heap. We’re quickly losing the civil in civility.
Have you noticed just how “sunburned” we are in terms of being able to put up with things we don’t like? I am more and more disgusted at just how easily we can be offended by those who dare tread on our sacred cows, or politically correct ideology. Once again it all boils down to our expectations.
So, here’s my answer to the first question. Here’s what I have the right to expect of you. I expect that you’ll tolerate – put up with - beliefs, opinions, convictions, and law-abiding actions that you don’t like, for such is the stuff of a free society. I expect that you and I will live out our beliefs, opinions and convictions with actions that hold to the highest standards of our own personal ethical beliefs, and are considerate of those who disagree. Lastly I expect that we will all bear the responsibility for our beliefs, opinions, convictions and actions and seek to be consistent in admitting when we are wrong.
As for the second question, we simply must grow up and realize that temper tantrums are never a right way to communicate our displeasure. It is never appropriate to offend those who offend us. All that does is confuse the issue of who is the adult, and who is acting properly.
Of course, the first step to take is to grow some thicker skin. We would be so much better off if we saved our outrage for things that are truly outrageous instead of taking every opportunity to huff and puff about how we’ve been wronged. Grow up! This world is broken in so many ways, filled with an assortment of brains that are empty, closed, and washed. Add to that the pervasive arrogance and self-serving desires of the human heart and … what do you expect? People are going to spout hurtful, hateful, misguided and misleading sentiments regularly. People are going to disagree with our opinions and actions. They will malign our values, mock our lifestyle, and laugh at our troubles. No matter! None of that changes the truth, or gives us the right to respond in kind.
Of course, I am not suggesting mere passivity in the cultural battles. Rather I am suggesting that we grow thick skin to go along with our informed minds, biblical values, and loving hearts. The only way to swim upstream against the tide of culture without getting eroded by it is to put together the whole package. Be a person whose nobility of spirit, depth of character, and clarity of thought turns offense into an opportunity to love others with the truth. And I am saying that’s what we should expect of one another all the time.