“A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices”- Edward R. Murrow

How true!

And how this quote changed me! because ever since I read it, I admit to start being more mindful of my thinking process.

I must disagree with Mr Murrow, though, because in my opinion “thinking” is a general term that could be specified into “analyzing”, “examining”, “criticizing”, “remembering”, “taking mental notes” and even “rearranging prejudices” (among others). For me, thinking is the mental activity that could be executed in various ways. This could be likened to when somebody mentions “exercise” and each one of the listeners would think “jogging” or “weight lifting” or any other form of physical exertion to stay fit.

Furthermore, rearranging prejudices could simply be a result of combining different forms of thinking. An observation had to have been made, followed by an analysis, then perhaps some memory searching and criticizing, to finally arrive at having one actual prejudice. This process has to have been repeated a number of times for a person to generate more than one prejudice, which he could then arrange and rearrange as he wishes.

Wouldn’t you agree? Rearranging prejudices could be considered thinking.

Nevertheless, I suppose that I “get” what the quote is supposed to mean: it warns us of our tendency to exercise more prejudice-creation than observation, examination and analysis. It’s easier, after all.

It implicitly recommends us to strike a balance among exercising different forms of thinking. Allowing ourselves to excessively fabricate prejudices will only lead us to the habit of rearranging them, instead of grabbing the opportunity to learn and discover something new, something perhaps even useful to us. If we stick to our analogue: should we spend most of our time creating prejudices, we would only be stretching one side of our bodies.

I read about how prejudices are formed and the first step is to form an opinion without sufficient knowledge. In fact, Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines “prejudice as”

an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge

The problem with this is that we normally don’t have the access to “enough” knowledge which would allow us to form a non-prejudice. We can’t even know if the knowledge we possess is sufficient for all our intents and purposes.

So my conclusion? ALL OF US are in fact rearranging our prejudices whenever we “think”. At least now, pedants and know-it-alls could go down their high horse and not act all high and mighty. For we are all prone to bias. That’s humane, actually.

Sorry Mr Murrow…

 

Sources:

  1. The Economist
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prejudice

Adulting and Money Management 4: The Money that They Owe You

 PayMe.Candle.qkx

Image courtesy of: http://www.luckymojo.com

This article is inspired by several Facebook posts pertaining to the irony that it’s the money lender who feels shame when asking their money back, instead of the other way around. Especially when it comes to following up a late payment.

At first, after a talk with one of my friends, I thought that the main problem lies in assertiveness, or the lack of it. And then I thought that perhaps certain cultures encourage assertiveness, more than others but it really is not the question. I didn’t do the numbers, but it’s clear how what I thought was a cultural aspect in lending money, is actually a very personal choice of each son of a man. That is, the choice whether to “donate” or “collect” the amount of money that was lent.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, because even before a payment could be followed-up, there must have first been a pledge to do so.

I myself have rarely lent money to anyone, perhaps because I give the impression of being riff-raff (hahaha!). But whenever I did, I made sure both parties understood and agreed that the money being exchanged was a loan, and not a gift. And in the case where the money were a gift, I also made that very clear.

Risking to state the obvious, the difference between a loan and a gift is that the former has to be returned to the money lender at a given time, with a given interest rate. The latter is simply to be graciously accepted and appreciated.

Now, the problem with some people is they are easily caught by surprise and instead of thinking twice before lending money, they immediately agree to “giving” something that is to be returned “in the future”, “without haste”. In 98% of these cases, no payback ever takes place.

In the world of adulting, taking time to think before acting is basically lesson number 1. In the more specific town of adulting and money management, this moment for reflection becomes as necessary as breathing. Every cent counts, whether it be a past, present or a future cent of a currency. As thus, lending money means sacrificing having the “cents” today with a guarantee of getting them back in the future. In the case of giving, the former sentence would end after the word “sacrificing” and that would be it.

Personally, what I usually do when asked for a loan is to:

  1. Ask how much they need
  2. How urgent they need it
  3. When can they repay me
  4. How will they procure the money to repay me

If I’m satisfied with the answers to the former questions, I tell them that I’d think about it. Afterwards, I ask myself:

  1. How will lending a certain amount of money affect my budget until it gets repaid?
  2. Will I be alright if I never get to see that money again?

If, after analyzing my own situation, I still choose to lend my money, I make the following very clear when I finally decide to go ahead with the transaction:

  1. I make sure they understand that the money has to be returned
  2. I make sure that we both agree on the date of repayment (with or without interest)
  3. I would make them understand that although I don’t need that money now (and that’s why I can lend it to them), I would need it in the future.
  4. Depending on how much I trust the borrower, I would make him sign an agreement including a clause which mentions a possible collateral

(Are you still wondering why people don’t borrow money from me?)

You might be asking: what if, at the agreed date of repayment, the borrower refuses/cannot/does not return the money?

This is where the importance of assertiveness comes in. Being firm in reclaiming what is his own actually helps achieve the goal. And in the case they still refuse to pay you, then this is where a signed document would be useful.

In some instances, no amount of assertiveness can ever get a borrower to pay up. No matter how many touching, beautiful speeches are delivered, they wouldn’t budge. Because the truth is, the list that I wrote above- it’s just me. In real life, and depending on many other factors, the things I just said would be easier said than done.

So what is best advice I could give? be wise, and before you lend an important amount of money, make sure that your finances are sound enough in case you don’t get it back.

Happy lending!