Saturday, April 20, 2024
Speak Your MindUnpredictability's high price

Unpredictability’s high price

Some people excel at planning, while others prefer a more spontaneous approach. During my interactions with European individuals, I have encountered individuals who meticulously plan activities nearly a year in advance. These activities, which may be considered ordinary by most people in this country, prompt Europeans to rely on time planners and agendas, much like Ethiopians rely on keeping their phones close at all times. It is almost certain that these individuals will retrieve their agendas and diligently note down even the most mundane outings if such activities are proposed to them. “Let me check my agenda” is a phrase commonly heard from them when discussing any form of planning.

When comparing this practice to our culture here in Ethiopia, the difference in planning habits becomes as vast as the distance between the sky and the earth.

Spontaneity is deeply ingrained in our Ethiopian identity. In fact, I have witnessed people becoming upset when asked to plan activities in advance, as it can feel burdensome to them. We often invoke a phrase, which I personally appreciate, “esti besselam yaderssen” or “esti ende Egzer Fikad,” meaning “let us first keep safe until then” or “God willing.”

It is rare for us to embark on an activity without mentioning either of these two phrases. Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate our humility and our acceptance that not everything is within our control but rather dictated by a higher power or God. However, these phrases also indicate our inclination to avoid setting specific dates and plans, opting instead to go with the flow and see what unfolds, rather than making concrete arrangements.

Recently, I found myself involved in a minor car accident, and I must admit it was entirely my fault. This incident triggered some reflections on the importance of planning and predictability. You see, my car was struck from behind because I made an abrupt change in direction, catching the driver behind me off guard. It made me realize the dangers of unpredictability. I have always believed that individuals who drive at a consistently slow or fast pace, but in a predictable manner, pose less risk than those who drive erratically, regardless of their speed.

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When things are predictable, people know what to expect and how to respond. However, unpredictability significantly increases the likelihood of collisions and damage.

This notion of unpredictability extends beyond driving and has become apparent in recent decisions that have had a profound impact on the lives of our citizens. These decisions have been made in a haphazard manner, neglecting the investments people have made in terms of resources and time. Examples include sudden halts in government services related to land matters, restrictions on personal vehicle movement during rush hours, and bans on importing fuel-based cars.

In an environment characterized by complete unpredictability, people struggle to make informed decisions. Particularly, decisions that require long-term commitments pose significant challenges as they demand substantial investments of resources, time, and energy. Fearful of rapidly changing circumstances, individuals either refrain from making major decisions altogether or hastily make ill-advised choices.

Sporadic decisions, devoid of careful planning and consideration for people’s existing situations, prove detrimental to both individuals and the nation as a whole. Businesses cannot flourish under such circumstances. Volatile situations breed resentment among the population and serve as catalysts for chaos and riots, eroding trust in the process.

Therefore, when making decisions that impact a large segment of the population, thorough and meticulous planning should be prioritized. And if these sporadic decisions must be made, swift compensation for the losses incurred as a result of such decisions should be readily available.

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