I recently read where someone said: “How lucky I am to be so trusting of mankind. I have always trusted until it's been proven I shouldn't trust.”
Most of my brain halted operations momentarily. ‘What?’ was the only decipherable response. The author of those two powerful, revealing sentences is, for all intents and purposes, a formidable lady; a woman of character, strength and beauty, inside and out. A smart perceptive person.
Yet I could not have disagreed with her more.
Trust is one of the most fundamental human emotions, and with this lady, clearly more of an instinct given automatically, rather then a gift offered based on the meritocracy of the recipient. She is not, of course, wrong. It is her choice to put herself in the position of discovering someone abused her trust AFTER she so willingly gave it.
I come from 180 degrees off in the distance. My trust is a gift, and it never gets wrapped and delivered until someone earns it. And my trust is not fluid, either. Once given, it would take an egregious breach of it for me to pull it back. Hasn’t happened more than a couple of times in my entire life.
Obviously, my approach has a cynical base. Even a distinct flavor of misanthropy. I accept that. Once the percentages change and the majority of people are worthy of being trusted and of sound mind and spirit, I may reconsider my approach. But not until then. And I don’t anticipate having to make that change in my lifetime.
I understand the strain of human kindness that is behind doling out trust easily, reflexively, and without much mental wrangling. It’s as simple as giving people the benefit of the doubt. In my world, that passes for a Pollyannaish approach to human relations. My travels have revealed to me that the glass is neither half empty nor half full. It’s simply half. And labeling it anything other than that is philosophical mumbo jumbo. It’s what you DO with it, when presented with the half glass that bears analysis.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. (How did George Bush botch that so badly??) Though rooted in skepticism, it is a healthy skepticism.
Let’s take ‘forgiveness’, which I have recently written about. It became obvious through the many responses that were written that forgiveness is rooted in selfishness, i.e. it is for the benefit of the forgiver, and its success or failure is not predicated on the subsequent behavior of the forgivee. The one offering forgiveness does so to relieve their own pain and angst.
That is beginning to make sense to me. But trust is presented to another person based totally on the anticipation that the behavior of the trustee will make them worthy of that trust. It leaves the trust giver vulnerable to the trustee in a way over which they have no control. Why would anyone consciously put themselves out on the edge of the cliff in that manner?
I think blindly giving trust to another person is not kindness; it is naiveté, even idealistic. We all would like to be able to trust one another right out of the gate. But the evidence stacked up behind us of shattered trust forces me to take a different approach.
Human vulnerability exists everywhere, every minute, for every one of us. Most of it is beyond our control. When an area such as trust, which is rife with the potential to make us vulnerable, falls under the realm of my control, you can bet your ass I’m gonna control it.
© Copyright 2016 Bill Rayburn. All rights reserved.