Consistency should be seen as the hallmark of character. It is important that predictability should be its right-hand word. If someone is known to be creative in nearly all instances, it would be fairly safe to assign a tricky duty to that person with the unwavering believe that he/she will come up with ideas that will get that duty done. That is predictability. If someone is known to be habitually lazy, it should be a surprise if he/she carries through an assignment as and when due and with an acceptable outcome.
There is no gainsaying that people ‘migrate’ their personal orientations and traits that define their characters into public office. Someone who has been the happy-go-lucky type should not be expected to be authoritarian on assuming office unless circumstances or aides compel him or her to act against conventional wisdom. I guess this is the understanding behind the word idiosyncrasy.
The etymology of the word idiosyncrasy is the Greek word krasis which means ‘personal mixing together.’ Certainly every human being is a pot pouri or alchemy of genes, environment, emotions, and experiences which combine to generate specific traits that define the individual. Probably two or more human beings that grow up in an environment that is absolutely the same should display uniform behavioural patterns. But that would be if the curious mix of genes did not produce different temperamental characteristics. It is apparently the mix of these temperamental characteristics with the environment (and by extension experiences) that over time produce a unique human being in certain aspects of life. Although people are grouped in line with respect to temperaments, every human being retains that uniqueness that is so distinguishable as to be predictable, and therefore consistent.
The Encarta dictionary enters one of the meanings of the adjective ‘consistent’ as “able to maintain a particular standard or repeat a particular task with minimum variation.” Being an adjective implies that it is used to qualify a noun, in our case, man or woman or a group such as an association, a nation, and so on (do tribes, nations, religious groups, and corporate entities not display peculiar orientations and behaviours?).
When an entity displays certain tendencies or characteristics most of the time for long periods, such entity can be said to be consistent and therefore when given certain tasks they can be expected to behave in a certain way. That makes such entities consistent and therefore predictable. If a particular baby is able to sustain attention and interest in a particular task, such a baby should be seen as being inconsistent with the norm. If a one-year old joins a family discussion, that would not only be inconsistent with expectations but would verily be scary, reason Ogba people of Nigeria have a proverb: ”A baby said in his mind to the person holding him, it is not that I cannot join this conversation; if I do, you will likely throw me away thinking that I am not normal.”
If AL Qaeda or ISIS or Al Shabab lays claim to a bomb blast anywhere in the world, it is regarded as usual and normal. No eyebrow would go up. As a matter of fact, if it announced that any of the three groups sent aid to victims of say a natural disaster or man-made disaster, eyebrows would not only go up, they would stand on end. The groups probably do, but because they have been ‘consistent’ in causing mayhem, no one would report the good they have done and even if it is reported, no one would believe it. Thus these groups are by and large classic ensamples of consistency in modus.
Swany Bhatt in a blog declares that the world’s top five charities are the World Food Programme (WFP), Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), Oxfam International, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), and Action Against Hunger (AAH). The third as listed, Oxfam, was established in 1995, has a large budget based on donations from governments and private persons/associations, and does good around the world in diverse areas such as the provision of food, medicines, and defence of individual rights.
In 2018, the New York Times reported that some of the staff of the agency, particularly those involved in the massive aid assistance in Haiti were exploiting some beneficiaries sexually. The scandal-hit this wonderful agency hard. The last published result (2016/17) shows takings of GBP 408.6 million (a whopping amount of 189.1billion Nigerian Naira, close to the 2.21 billion Naira of the 2016 allocation to the health sector in the N6.06 trillion budget for 2016; the sector fares better in the 2019 budget of 8.83 trillion Naira). The issue here is that Oxfam has been ‘consistent’ as a protector of the weak and deprived. A handful of the 10,000 staff made mouths to turn in a negative direction in disfavour. Can Oxfam remain predictable as a beacon of hope for the suffering? Maybe all of us, as we serve in whatever capacity, should be mindful of the need for consistency in actualizing the vision and mission of our organizations of whatever persuasion. Imagine how much Oxfam will lose in terms of contributions from donor agencies and individuals.
There are few people in the world today that fit the bill of behavioural consistency like Donald J. Trump of the United States of America. It is a ‘surprise’ if he fails to rail at somebody or group whenever his expectation is not met. It is a surprise when he retracts any position he has taken no matter how wrong statistically and otherwise. He prefers to double down on all his pronouncements no matter how precarious they are. Probably it has to do with his ego and believe that retracting is a sign of weakness and counters a ‘truth’ earlier told by him even if the ‘truth’ as CNN advertises, is that “a banana a day keeps the doctor away” as against the age-old saying that “an apple a day keeps the doctor at bay.” Once his base is satisfied and accepts the ‘truth’ any other person can go and stew. His vociferous lawyer, billionaire and former New York State Mayor Rudy Giuliani has openly and unabashedly told America and the world that the Trump world is relativist in orientation. What is truth, depends on time, circumstance, and the speaker. I guess he will be able to accept that New York City is both the financial capital of the world and the converse depending on when that position is taken and by whom.
Watchers of the stock market consistently state that what the market hates most is inconsistency. Although turbulence is innate in an economic system, predictability is the hallmark of every stock market. When uncertainty rules, stocks float like a wasp. This is the lesson of the present Trump administration.
Probably no action of Donald Trump has said something against consistency in the negative direction as the resignation of General Jim Mattis. Taking precipitate decisions without consultations and announcing major government policies via twitter is classic Trump consistency. It appears the affable General was filled to the brim with his boss’s consistency and so had to bow out honourably.
Letting Trump be Trump, alias letting him be consistent has probably been pleasant to his so-called ‘base.’ But it is the base that will ultimately pay the price. Already, rural west is squirming from his China policies and pronouncements. The effect of tax cut is gone, and when it was there, it went to Trump’s real base – the super-rich, not to the prole who shouts themselves hoarse that Trump should be Trump and give him the thumbs up. Probably if they had been complaining each time he functions off the cuff, he would have reined in his excesses and his base would be the better. It is his base that should have been saying, “You see, you said he is temperamentally unfit to be President. Are you not surprised that he is so temperate?” Let 2019 be the turnaround year, the year that the original Trump will be archived somewhere while a new Trump manages the nation and the world as he is wont just as others before him did. Best of 2019 to Trump and the world.