The Limit of Competence


We all have our limit of competence and normally we operate in compliance with that competence, at least those who have enough wits and self-consciousness. We cannot and must not make decisions beyond our limit of competence; we must operate only based on our knowledge and experience, for if we do not, we will be committing a catastrophic blunder.

How many people in this country operate based strictly on that golden principle? There is no count of this because measuring this would probably be impossible. Only a sense of truth and reality can help here. Fair and truthful judgment might be possible only by the impression we get while watching the ways and means of society.

The limit of competence, as the basis for evaluating our current and future deeds, happens to be a universal yardstick that is used in any segment of human activity and walk of life, starting from baking bread and ending with rocket science. Let us, for starters, look at the new architecture of Tbilisi, fast transforming the city into a massive, ugly stone jungle. Manhattan is the most monstrous and the most noticeable stone jungle in the world but there is a smart architectural logic to it which makes it easier to put up with, especially if you are a user of all the amenities and a consumer of all other good things that you come across within. The Tbilisi stone jungles, scattered as hideous macabre residential clusters, make a heartbreaking eye-sore which has been brought to life beyond any possible limit of architectural and constructional competence.

Forget about architecture – we are morbidly used to it by now. Changing the subject drastically, within what limits of competence has the Georgian political philosophy and practice been built in the last thirty destructive years? This is an egregious sample of breaking the limit of competence and acting far beyond it. Tens of historical steps and decisions, registered in annals, will corroborate the fact. How about the totally broken and hopelessly irreversible relations between the powerful bully Russia and the miserable weakling Georgia? Within what political competence was that done? Who acted then beyond his or her limit of competence so unfortunately that it has led the nation to this insurmountable quagmire, sucking the country in so precipitously?

Let us now go to the practice of selling the post-Russian-occupation remnants of Georgian farm land to foreign citizens. Within the scope of what competence was it considered right to do this? Whose limit of competence was reckoned with when the decision was made to let foreigners purchase our hectares so easily?

Let us go to education per se! Within the extent of whose competence was our system of education created and is currently being operated? Whose range of competence is running the agriculture of this nation? Or whose competence is handling our economy in general, or science or sports or culture or jurisprudence or law enforcement or what not? In its most commonplace definition, competence is the ability of an individual to do a job properly, and the limit of that competence is the boundary which cannot be overstepped when trying to do that job properly.

To put all those thoughts more plainly and briefly, if I felt that my limit of competence in journalism and in the English language did not allow me to write up this article, I would stay away from it. So if a soccer coach thinks that his limit of competence does not allow him to train the athletes, let him leave the team forthwith; if a chef knows that his limit of competence prevents the restaurant owner selling his culinary art profitably, the chef must have enough brains and courage to walk; or if the limit of competence of the constitution writers and amenders come to believe that the needed text is not flowing from their hands and minds, let them find another trade to engage themselves in; and if the government, any government, understands that its limit of competence is wronging the nation in any possible way, it should make a prompt decision thereof about retiring or staying in office.

The limit of competence might seem to be a hair-splitting argument for making such major decisions but it is also very much worth embarking on if we want to be both righteous and productive.

Nugzar B. Ruhadze

13 July 2017 17:23