We are calculating people. We learn to be. The accountants talk about a ‘cost benefit analysis’, and as we weigh the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ we do the same thing in almost every part of life. One of the principles we learn from the financial world is spreading the risk. You never get too deeply committed to any one thing. A range of investments makes sure that if one fails, others will sustain you.
A poverty-stricken student reaches the end of her financial resources and writes home, appealing for money. If we were so rude as to open her letter (or if we were to receive it!), what would we find? What sort of letter would it be? How would she persuade her parents to hand over the cash? What sort of techniques would she employ?
A lot of the time, we explain our way through the world with a set of sayings. They tumble off our lips and seem to make sense, and they help us feel like we know what’s going on and how we should act. But often, when I think I am understanding or explaining the world, I am merely reassuring myself by using a safe but misleading label. It pays to ponder these everyday experiences, and look beyond the cliche.