Do Not Make An Ass Out of U and Me

“Never assume, you’ll make an ass out of U and ME”.

Some months ago, my team played a game of airsoft against a relatively new team somewhere in QC. Having played for some time now, we thought this would be an easy win, and we went out there to try some new things, with the goal, of course, of hammering them. A funny thing happened, though – we lost the game. We took them too lightly, or in other words, we assumed that they would suck. “Never assume”, some might say, “you’ll just make an ass out of you and me”. I understand the spirit of this saying. What it’s trying to suggest is, in a performance or task, leave no stone unturned. Do not take anything for granted, in our team’s case, the victory.

One year ago, today — the Quirino Grandstand hostage drama — was rife with assumptions. P/Ins Mendoza assumed that the PNP and the Ombudsman would accede to his demands. The Philippine National Police, particularly the Manila Police Department, assumed that P/Insp Mendoza was just trying to gain media mileage. The media assumed they can do more help by getting in the way of police negotiations.

Philosophically.

However, taken literally, I think its rubbish – every action we make, even our thoughts, are and always will be based on at least one assumption; they have to be, otherwise they wouldn’t exist. When I kick a football, I assume that the ball will not burst before I drop it. I assume that gravity will do its job in letting the ball drop to my foot. These are physical assumptions, but there are plenty of social assumptions too: if I kick the ball to my friend I assume he’s going to attempt to catch it. If he doesn’t, and it hits him on the head, that’s funny. So there’s one advantage in assuming: it allows for surprise.

Another, more obvious advantage in assuming is that it is the prerequisite for action. Hamlet, from Shakespeare’s play of the same name, procrastinated and was a “coward” only because of his refusal to make an assumption. Had he assumed that the ghost he saw was real, and telling the truth, then he could have acted without hesitation. But he didn’t, he couldn’t. He wouldn’t accept the premise as true, and in logic, you have to assume the premise is true if you want to get to a conclusion. As I’m writing this, I am assuming that people will read it. I assume that those readers speak English, and are familiar with Hamlet. If I cease to assume these simple premises, then my writing will be noticeably different. I may even stop writing. If I question each and every assumption that I possess, then I’ll probably go mad.

In Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead — a play which expands upon the exploits of two minor characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the courtiers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern — we come across this dialogue between the flustered Guildenstern and the worldly-wise Player:

Guildenstern: We only know what we’re told, and that’s little enough. And for all we know it isn’t even true.

Player: For all anyone knows, nothing is. Everything has to be taken on trust; truth is only that which is taken to be true. It’s the currency of living. There may be nothing behind it, but it doesn’t make any difference so long as it is honored. One acts on assumptions. What do you assume?

Makes sense to me.

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About Seeing with Brahmin eyes
My sense of humor can be keen, sarcastic, silly or corny -- sometimes all at once. I enjoy meeting new people with no preconceived ideas about what or what is not possible. You get much more out of life by being open minded and willing. I'm an easy going, good-natured person who loves life and loves people. I'm both optimistic and realistic and pretty objective when it comes to assessing situations, events, etc. In general I am a very positive person and you'll usually find we with a smile on my face.

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