The Unpopular Thoughts of Anticipation

Vera Lynn Catan

“Praemonitus, praemunitus.” Forewarned, Forearmed.

This motto hangs on the wall of several intelligence and strategic organizations worldwide, to include the esteemed United States Army Security Agency, British Royal Observer Corps and the Australian Army Intelligence Corps. This is the guiding principle of military organizations to train their people to think—or overly-think even to the point of paranoia, which sets their reasoning and analytics beyond (better or worse) the assessment of the majority. This kind of thinking makes them effective to the society they serve. While the rest of a nation live their daily lives in peace and snore their hearts out in sound sleep, a small population of “privileged” or “cursed” (depending how one see the role) individuals live in hysteria and sleepless nights in order for the majority to enjoy that peace. Sometimes hysterias are for nothing; yet, the price is too high for complacency for this small group to take their chances.

This is the craft that helps keep the security of a nation in balance. This is the secret that lies behind failed terror attacks, syndicated crimes and toppling of governments.

In simple language, this is what we call anticipation.

Anticipation is synonymous to foresight, premonition, apprehension or expectancy. In application, anticipation is sort of “scenario construction.”

On the other hand, it is the opposite of surprise, unreadiness, wonder, and—as extremely defined—ignorance.

Because of this, the lack of anticipation is the true and only mother of all “if onlys.”

Because mostly anticipation deals on what-ifs and the ugly possibility of a situation, it is not something that we want to entertain. To other groups, anticipation is synonymous to negative thinking or pessimism, of taking ill of one another, or of doubting the interests of another. Sometimes, by mere anticipation, one is labeled infidel; agenda and reputation besmirched.

Anticipation mostly goes against the popular voice. It comes out not only from the mouth of the schooled and the wise—it is surprising to know that most credible and practical anticipations came from simple-minded but keen observers. Thus raises the argument whether experts have become too wise to see the obvious, or they simply shrug off scenarios they hate to entertain because of pre-conceived calculations of specific situations.

Yet, for an imperfect world, ugly turns are real. One’s calculation does not represent the calculation of every one involved, most especially on matters that calculations are of no essence, such as acts of God or fury of nature. Unless we hold and play every piece of the puzzle, threat is imminent, and we are not assured that we will always get what we want or hope for.

For policy makers and influencers, without anticipation is arrogance at the expense of the people. You cannot afford not to anticipate if the lives of people are at stake. Anticipating does not necessarily means shrinking back; it simply means asking questions, being prepared for the consequences, and being a step ahead of the situation.

Different issues that we face as an individual and as a city, province or nation, deserve our scrutiny. For an organization that carries the burden of taking care of the general interest of the people, it cannot afford to float in cloud nine and cross its fingers that everything will turn out exactly as it plans or expects.

It takes much courage to go against the goad in the process of forewarning. In a democratic society wherein the freedom of expression surpasses the willingness to go into the details, the popular voice automatically becomes the popular choice. In effect, during elections, for instance, it is only a matter of months before the same people who voted for the YES would initiate protests and call for resignation.

In issues confronting the common good, what is your anticipation?


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