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Over a lifetime, the question of trust comes up almost from the moment we are born. Trust is implicit in honorable relationships, in our putting our lives in the hands of others, in taking risks in partnership with others, in simply trying out new things. Unless we came from highly dysfunctional families, our parents tended to us in ways that helped us feel safe in the world. They did their best to feed us and clothe us, to make sure we picked up our rooms and wiped off our muddy feet before we came into the house. We followed their direction because we trusted them to care for us, and they in turn learned to trust us.
In the larger world when we were small children, we were told to look both ways before we crossed the street; the drivers couldn’t be trusted to see our miniature bodies as we stepped into their paths. We were told to honor our teachers who were entrusted to educate us and socialize us with our peers; we learned to trust them when they helped us with our homework or relied on us to complete a classroom chore.
We began to realize that trust grows when there is reciprocity in the relationship. If we were fortunate, we learned over time to trust the guidance we received from the adults in our lives about the people that might be worthy of our trust. Even then, we learned over time, from experience, that some people were more trustworthy than others.
As adults, our discernment about who can be trusted becomes more refined. Trust lives on a spectrum for each of us: there are those of us who essentially trust no one and others who seem to trust everyone. Both of these attitudes, at the extremes, can lead to dysfunction in our lives. Those people who trust no one and do not make any effort to open to anyone else tend to lead isolated and lonely lives; those who open up with almost no exception to everyone, tend to be hurt and disappointed. Everyone benefits the most from being flexible: trusting people in general, with some caution, and then depending on our temperament and experience with them, deciding how vulnerable we are willing to be with them. If they are reliable, i.e., trustworthy, our trust grows and so does the relationship. If they have a track record of disappointing us, then seeking a trusting relationship is likely unwise.
But we live in a culture where the tenets of trust have not only been damaged but in many cases, been destroyed, at almost every level of our lives. Our personal relationships in many cases have been wounded; the people with whom we could share ideas and perspectives have been convinced that unless others think the way they do, those with differing views can’t be trusted. We also find our trust has been damaged because if we try to strike up a conversation with certain people, they will punish us for our ideas. When fear and hatred dominate those we encounter, there is no room for trust.
There were also certain professions that had a general reputation for reliability, honesty, and candor. Although there were outliers, I think that most of us felt that the medical profession, our professional educators at all levels, our sports professionals, and the leaders of industry could be trusted. We now know that the medical professionals, for the most part, toe the line of the powers-that-be. Our educators are brainwashing our children, and all over the country, they demand (I believe) more money over teaching our kids in the schools. Professional athletes have disrespected this country and its flag by protesting an imaginary history to demonstrate their “wokeness.” And the titans of industry are threatening to stop engaging with people who don’t demonstrate allegiance to the Marxist agenda of the Left.
The irony of this situation is that we have been forced to distrust people in almost every part of our lives because they have chosen to show disdain for us and to distrust us. Our growing distrust is not a preferred way of participating in our worlds, but the path to survival. We can no longer automatically assume the best of a new acquaintance; even those of us who are the most trusting will approach someone new with a degree of skepticism and discernment. Where we might once have entered a casual relationship lightly, with no sense of having to figure out how the other person might see us, we now must proceed with caution.
But the worst threats to trying to live a life of trust and curiosity are the actions of the government, Leftist organizations, and the media (particularly social media). Unless you live in a cave, there is no way to get away from them. They permeate our days to one degree or another, and there is no escape.
So what do we do? Is it impossible to live a life with trust?
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It isn’t impossible to find a place for trust in your life, but it demands a great deal of attention and effort:
We must become more conscious of how others speak about their own lives, what is important to them and what drives their passions, loves, and hatreds.
We must develop a heightened awareness that how we behave and what we say in casual relationships can have an unexpected impact on our lives.
We must seek others who don’t necessarily have the same world views as ours, but who honor differences in perspectives and are willing to discuss them civilly.
We must be selective about the people we elect, those who provide us with their services, and those we want to be associated with.
We must strive to find the beauty and joy in life and celebrate them because they have become more precious to us than ever before.
We must be discerning in selecting new friends and colleagues because we want to choose people who honor trust in relationships as much as we do.
Trust within society is not gone.
But it must be guarded and protected like never before.Published in