Can We Trust Anyone?

 

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?

* * * * *

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 Culture
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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    “Believe half of what you hear and one tenth of what you read” dates back the original rise of newspapers, at least.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):

    “Believe half of what you hear and one tenth of what you read” dates back the original rise of newspapers, at least.

    That’s certainly a start, Percival. I didn’t mention in my post that I’ve accepted the situation with great reluctance. Both my parents were distrustful of mostly everything; their growing up during the Depression didn’t help. And I was in constant inner conflict because I wanted to accept my parents and their views, but some part of me just couldn’t do it. I finally learned to embrace a balanced (I think) attitude of giving people the benefit of the doubt. And now here we are, where I believe I need to question that kind of openness. It’s heartbreaking, at least to me.

    • #2
  3. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    We trusted  local retailers, if we couldn’t they lost our business.  Giant corporate groceries, national retailers don’t need our business and if we shop elsewhere, they’re likely to be giant retailers as well.   The dilemma is real because  we’ll never be able to trust global retailers, they’re good at what they do, provide standard fare decently, can’t be replaced by government nor regulated toward better concern.  Moreover, little ethnic retailers pop up and provide the unique stuff we may want.   Now local restaurants are being destroyed and we’ll be left with global chains that can produce descent food but not good food, and never excellent gourmet delights.   We’ve never needed these little excellent places as much as we do now.  Like you say, we have to pay attention and pay a little extra to keep diversity and quality alive.  These little special places are important for keeping the big places attentive.  The ethnic isles are growing all the time, that’s good, but it’s also a threat. 

    • #3
  4. Foghorn Coolidge
    Foghorn
    @Dave Rogers

    Susan Quinn:

    So what do we do? Is it impossible to live a life with trust?

    * * * * *

    It isn’t impossible to find a place for trust in your life, but it demands a great deal of attention and Trust within society is not gone.

    But it must be guarded and protected like never before.

    This is what I meant in my return to Ricochet post when I said I was going to just read a lot of people way smarter than me.  A lot to unpack there for my simple brain but I pulled the two salient points for me. 

    Been a loner all my life for various reasons but partly due to a lot of bullying when I was a kid. Taught me to not trust many. 

    Then joined the military and learned the old adage of “trust but verify” otherwise stated as “in God we trust, all others we monitor”

    So I have always kind of lived my life being a generally happy person willing to trust but only after I’ve tested you more than once to verify.

    For me then the answer to your question about living life without trust the answer is yes if you can call that living and no if you truly want to live.

    Then I agree that trust in society is not gone but for me it is just a continuation of how I have always lived – “guarded”.

    I appreciate your writings Susan, you articulate what I think or else you make me think.

     

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I Walton (View Comment):

    We trusted local retailers, if we couldn’t they lost our business. Giant corporate groceries, national retailers don’t need our business and if we shop elsewhere, they’re likely to be giant retailers as well. The dilemma is real because we’ll never be able to trust global retailers, they’re good at what they do, provide standard fare decently, can’t be replaced by government nor regulated toward better concern. Moreover, little ethnic retailers pop up and provide the unique stuff we may want. Now local restaurants are being destroyed and we’ll be left with global chains that can produce descent food but not good food, and never excellent gourmet delights. We’ve never needed these little excellent places as much as we do now. Like you say, we have to pay attention and pay a little extra to keep diversity and quality alive. These little special places are important for keeping the big places attentive. The ethnic isles are growing all the time, that’s good, but it’s also a threat.

    It is a dilemma, isn’t it? Who ever believed we’d need to closely analyze our business relationships the way we are now, @iwalton. But wisdom suggests we do just that, and it will be a never-ending task.

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Foghorn (View Comment):

    So I have always kind of lived my life being a generally happy person willing to trust but only after I’ve tested you more than once to verify.

    For me then the answer to your question about living life without trust the answer is yes if you can call that living and no if you truly want to live.

    Then I agree that trust in society is not gone but for me it is just a continuation of how I have always lived – “guarded”.

    I appreciate your writings Susan, you articulate what I think or else you make me think.

     

    Thanks, @dave-rogers. It sounds like you have found just the right balance. There is clearly no set formula–that’s why I talked about flexibility–but we are wise to pay attention to those relationships we have in our lives. Thanks for the kind words.

    • #6
  7. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    “Believe half of what you hear and one tenth of what you read” dates back the original rise of newspapers, at least.

    That’s certainly a start, Percival. I didn’t mention in my post that I’ve accepted the situation with great reluctance. Both my parents were distrustful of mostly everything; their growing up during the Depression didn’t help. And I was in constant inner conflict because I wanted to accept my parents and their views, but some part of me just couldn’t do it. I finally learned to embrace a balanced (I think) attitude of giving people the benefit of the doubt. And now here we are, where I believe I need to question that kind of openness. It’s heartbreaking, at least to me.

    I grew up watching Inspector Lewis Erskine keeping us all safe from the Bad Guys on “The FBI.” Now that the FBI has c hanged sides, who keeps us safe from them*?


    * No, not all of them. Just the clownshow on the seventh floor.

    • #7
  8. Foghorn Coolidge
    Foghorn
    @Dave Rogers

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Foghorn (View Comment):

    So I have always kind of lived my life being a generally happy person willing to trust but only after I’ve tested you more than once to verify.

    For me then the answer to your question about living life without trust the answer is yes if you can call that living and no if you truly want to live.

    Then I agree that trust in society is not gone but for me it is just a continuation of how I have always lived – “guarded”.

    I appreciate your writings Susan, you articulate what I think or else you make me think.

     

    Thanks, @ dave-rogers. It sounds like you have found just the right balance. There is clearly no set formula–that’s why I talked about flexibility–but we are wise to pay attention to those relationships we have in our lives. Thanks for the kind words.

    Kinda reflects in my Foghorn picture doesn’t it? Smile on the face but a bat at the ready 😆.

    And you are right about paying attention to the relationships we do have. I don’t have more that a couple outside my house but I work at all of them inside and outside the house.  They are part of my core being and if I’m going to REALLY live then those have to grow and that doesn’t happen by accident. 

    This leads to what the Priest talked about during his homily at mass this morning.  In the Catholic world we are at the 1st Sunday of Lent.  Fr. Steve’s advice was not to focus so much on sacrificing or giving up something for Lent but rather on dispelling the negative attitude that seems to permeate society right now and focus on building up someone.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Foghorn (View Comment):
    This leads to what the Priest talked about during his homily at mass this morning. In the Catholic world we are at the 1st Sunday of Lent. Fr. Steve’s advice was not to focus so much on sacrificing or giving up something for Lent but rather on dispelling the negative attitude that seems to permeate society right now and focus on building up someone.

    I’m so glad you’re back! First, I wish you a blessed Lenten season, and I think your priest gave excellent advice. We can work at dispelling our negative attitude for ourselves AND that helps those we love. And I love your avatar–perfect!

    • #9
  10. Foghorn Coolidge
    Foghorn
    @Dave Rogers

    Percival (View Comment):

    Percival,  I think you have a fair question.  I grew up believing that we truly had altruistic good guys. That fantasy has been totally shattered.  If someone introduced themselves to me 20 years ago as FBI I would have looked on them with respect. Today the same introduction will be met with distrust. 

    I’ve mentioned in other posts about my experience with our legal system in the past 5 years. That proved to me that justice is not blind at all to political connections or money. 

    So who protects the people from a system that is no longer just?

    The Federalist website has a post about how the cancel culture is fomenting new outlets for news & entertainment but we can’t really do that for legal issues without taking the law into our own hands & not really sure that’s a good idea. So what to do?

    Personally, I’m arming myself to protect my family first and foremost.  Then, what?

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Foghorn (View Comment):
    Personally, I’m arming myself to protect my family first and foremost. Then, what?

    Practice.

    • #11
  12. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Societies that flourish are “high trust” societies. Not meaning that they trust everyone no matter what, but that the systems in place reward the trustworthy and deal harshly with the untrustworthy. Progressivism seeks to replace trust with power. Friends are rewarded, enemies destroyed. Trust is replaced with obsequiousness. Trust requires individual integrity and dispenses individual rewards. Progressivism requires that individuality be denied and allegiance paid to the collective. A Progressive society may continue to function (in the sense that it remains) but inevitably it starves once the predators have consumed all the prey.

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Societies that flourish are “high trust” societies. Not meaning that they trust everyone no matter what, but that the systems in place reward the trustworthy and deal harshly with the untrustworthy. Progressivism seeks to replace trust with power. Friends are rewarded, enemies destroyed. Trust is replaced with obsequiousness. Trust requires individual integrity and dispenses individual rewards. Progressivism requires that individuality be denied and allegiance paid to the collective. A Progressive society may continue to function (in the sense that it remains) but inevitably it starves once the predators have consumed all the prey.

    A brilliant comment, as always, @rodin. I hate to ask this question, but is there any way back?

    • #13
  14. Foghorn Coolidge
    Foghorn
    @Dave Rogers

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Foghorn (View Comment):
    Personally, I’m arming myself to protect my family first and foremost. Then, what?

    Practice.

    Amen Sister. I was a qualified pistol expert when on active duty but that was over 20 years ago now. So a fire arms course, some range time  and a lot of prayers that it never has to come to that. 

    • #14
  15. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Betrayal is easy, loyalty is hard. 

    The people I really trust are quite limited. 

    I used to trust some people here at R>, but that group has shrunk down to a couple. 

    • #15
  16. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Societies that flourish are “high trust” societies. Not meaning that they trust everyone no matter what, but that the systems in place reward the trustworthy and deal harshly with the untrustworthy. Progressivism seeks to replace trust with power. Friends are rewarded, enemies destroyed. Trust is replaced with obsequiousness. Trust requires individual integrity and dispenses individual rewards. Progressivism requires that individuality be denied and allegiance paid to the collective. A Progressive society may continue to function (in the sense that it remains) but inevitably it starves once the predators have consumed all the prey.

    A brilliant comment, as always, @ rodin. I hate to ask this question, but is there any way back?

    A combination of revivalism and revolution. The people have to get utterly sick of what is going on in their lives and must seek and receive a transcendental connection that makes them see that the government is subservient to their G-d. This destroys Progressivism that makes government a god. If democracy were functioning then revivalism would be sufficient, but Progressives will resist and that makes revolution inevitable.

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):
    The people have to get utterly sick of what is going on in their lives and must seek and receive a transcendental connection that makes them see that the government is subservient to their G-d. This destroys Progressivism that makes government a god.

    I guess I’ve lost confidence in the people. I see little resistance to what is going on; complaining won’t get us there. And that would mean a spiritual shift that will be discouraged by the Left. But I won’t give up hope. Thanks.

    • #17
  18. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    We used to trust experts, but now it has become clear even experts these days bow to their own politics and give their “expert” advice, opinions, and studies as containing Truth Not To Be Argued With . . .

    • #18
  19. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):
    The people have to get utterly sick of what is going on in their lives and must seek and receive a transcendental connection that makes them see that the government is subservient to their G-d. This destroys Progressivism that makes government a god.

    I guess I’ve lost confidence in the people. I see little resistance to what is going on; complaining won’t get us there. And that would mean a spiritual shift that will be discouraged by the Left. But I won’t give up hope. Thanks.

    We are not there yet. And I don’t know how long this arc will take. The presidency of Trump was a pause, not a reversal, in Progressive control. It demonstrated how life could be better for everyone — real progress was made in restoring middle class confidence before the China flu. The vestiges of our federal system is a partial restraint on the slide, but not a complete brake. The corrosive effect of Progressive control on so many institutions weakened our constitutional system. The one thing I am certain of is that whatever it is we think will happen, it will be different. Thus hope remains.

    • #19
  20. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Susan Quinn:

    Trust within society is not gone.

    But it must be guarded and protected like never before.

    For what it’s worth, my philosophers agree. Augustine, Confucius, and Mill.

    • #20
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:

    Trust within society is not gone.

    But it must be guarded and protected like never before.

    For what it’s worth, my philosophers agree. Augustine, Confucius, and Mill.

    That would be very honorable company. Thank you, St. A.

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Stad (View Comment):

    We used to trust experts, but now it has become clear even experts these days bow to their own politics and give their “expert” advice, opinions, and studies as containing Truth Not To Be Argued With . . .

    I just read today that Fauci is now saying that we will probably be wearing masks into 2022. He gave some lame reason for moving the time frame from this fall to next year. We must start fighting this power grab! . . . .Thanks, @stad.

    • #22
  23. Mim526 Member
    Mim526
    @Mim526

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:

    Trust within society is not gone.

    But it must be guarded and protected like never before.

    For what it’s worth, my philosophers agree. Augustine, Confucius, and Mill.

    Highly recommend Auggie’s YouTube channel for succinct discussions of philosophers that address questions like this post.  I’ve listened to a few already.  Good stuff for the heart and mind.

    https://www.youtube.com/user/TeacherOfPhilosophy/featured

    • #23
  24. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Mim526 (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:

    Trust within society is not gone.

    But it must be guarded and protected like never before.

    For what it’s worth, my philosophers agree. Augustine, Confucius, and Mill.

    Highly recommend Auggie’s YouTube channel for succinct discussions of philosophers that address questions like this post. I’ve listened to a few already. Good stuff for the heart and mind.

    https://www.youtube.com/user/TeacherOfPhilosophy/featured

    Thank you. You are too kind.  (Working on having the same material on Rumble. Early efforts here involving William James and here involving moral and political phil.)

    Augustine and Confucius on trust here, here, and here. No video on this long and wonderful Mill sentence as of yet:

    Thus, it would often be expedient, for the purpose of getting over some momentary embarrassment, or attaining some object immediately useful to ourselves or others, to tell a lie. But inasmuch as the cultivation in ourselves of a sensitive feeling on the subject of veracity, is one of the most useful, and the enfeeblement of that feeling one of the most hurtful, things to which our conduct can be instrumental; and inasmuch as any, even unintentional, deviation from truth, does that much towards weakening the trustworthiness of human assertion, which is not only the principal support of all present social well-being, but the insufficiency of which does more than any one thing that can be named to keep back civilisation, virtue, everything on which human happiness on the largest scale depends; we feel that the violation, for a present advantage, of a rule of such transcendant expediency, is not expedient, and that he who, for the sake of a convenience to himself or to some other individual, does what depends on him to deprive mankind of the good, and inflict upon them the evil, involved in the greater or less reliance which they can place in each other’s word, acts the part of one of their worst enemies.

    • #24
  25. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    I will be honest and say that I trust a lot fewer people, even here on Ricochet, than I used to, and I generally get paranoid about trusting people.  I can’t tell half the time if they are betraying me or if tI am just being paranoid.  I try to make sure everyone knows that any betrayal will be punished severely and will never be forgotten.

    • #25
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    I will be honest and say that I trust a lot fewer people, even here on Ricochet, than I used to, and I generally get paranoid about trusting people. I can’t tell half the time if they are betraying me or if tI am just being paranoid. I try to make sure everyone knows that any betrayal will be punished severely and will never be forgotten.

    I grew up with that attitude, @omegapaladin; both my parents felt as you do. Although I was suspicious of others, I couldn’t quite get to the paranoid level. Now, I’ve found that relationships are too precious to give up on people entirely. I think, too, that many of us have an optimistic/pessimistic bent: the optimistic tend to want to give the benefit of the doubt, the pessimistic tend to assume the worst. We actually can make a choice about our worldview, but often it doesn’t seem worth the potential pain.

    For me, I choose to stay cautiously engaged; I give people the benefit of the doubt, and on Ricochet, if I’m not sure what the person is saying, I assume the best instead of the worst or I ask the person to clarify. So often, I find that I’ve misunderstood.

    I’m not telling you all this as a way to judge your approach to life. My mother was similar. We talked about making friends, and it was a very special conversation. She told me about a painful experience with a friend in her teens, and as a result, she decided that making friends, even casual friends, had the potential for too much pain. I think mixed in to this decision was the fact that she had been present when her grandfather committed suicide, and there was shame and betrayal that followed. It was clear to me that she had come to terms with her decision, and I respected her clarity. I simply told her that I thought relationships were worth the risk. But then, I hadn’t been wounded as she had early in life.

    • #26
  27. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    This is such a good message on so many levels. It reminds us that trust is built first within the family, and expands from there. The family needs to be protected, and that includes what is taught to children. It seems what you outlined as far as losing the ability to trust is where rogue regimes start – everyone becomes afraid on some level. You can clearly see it in the control of language – communication is everything. If we lose that, then we live in fear – without trust. 

    Thank you – great message!

    • #27
  28. Foghorn Coolidge
    Foghorn
    @Dave Rogers

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    I will be honest and say that I trust a lot fewer people, even here on Ricochet, than I used to, and I generally get paranoid about trusting people. I can’t tell half the time if they are betraying me or if tI am just being paranoid. I try to make sure everyone knows that any betrayal will be punished severely and will never be forgotten.

    You know you are only paranoid until you aren’t.

    • #28
  29. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    The only person you can trust is yourself and even that person will let you down from time to time.   

    Others the only thing you can trust is that they will follow their own self interest.  

    • #29
  30. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    The only person you can trust is yourself and even that person will let you down from time to time.

    Others the only thing you can trust is that they will follow their own self interest.

    As I said to Omega, it can be lonely to live that way. Keep in mind that your choice suggests that your choice to not trust is following your own self-interest.

    • #30