When should we enter into a promise?

When should we enter into a promise?

There are times when we enter into promises out of convenience, an emotional high, or to appease another at present without necessarily intending to fulfill the promise.

If we want to honor our word, I am thinking of three conditions that must be met if we want to make a promise (or enter into a binding agreement with one another):

First, the need to be mindful, heartful, authentic, and self-aware. Promising things during an extreme emotional high or low may impede us from actually understanding whether we can commit to doing something or not. We may overestimate our abilities and commit to something we cannot or not willing to do. We may inadvertently underestimate the risks and tradeoffs. In Filipino, pwede tayong mapasubo.

Second is the need to appreciate the power dynamics between those entering the promise. Did the powerful manipulate the powerless? Were there any false pretenses?

Third is orienting ourselves towards what is collaboratively discerned as “good” or a win-win situation. This disincentivizes the other from breaking the promise, because why would any break their end of the stick if both stand to flourish?

If we cannot fulfill any of these three conditions assuming that we want to honor our word, then it is better not to promise anything.

In a world where fake news, BS, and half-truths are more common, those who stand for the truth and honor their word are indeed rare; scarce, even. This makes those who honor their word valuable, almost a priceless gem that no one would ever want to let go.

Matthew 14:1-12. Because of his “oaths”… (the beheading of John the Baptist)


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