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Monday, 16 September 2013

Questions of Trust

So much in our lives is based on something as fragile as trust.

Each time, we send our kids to school; we trust that the school staff will take care of them. Each time, we lay down on a surgical table; we place our trust in the hospital staff. Even a trip to the doctor, taking pills for commonplace ailments; we place trust in the doctor, the pharmacist and the pharmaceutical company who manufactured the pill we are popping. Driving down the road, we almost unconsciously trust that the other people on the street will follow the rules and behave in an expected manner. Each time, we eat out; we trust that the staff produced the food in a somewhat hygienic manner. Even our everyday interactions are founded on basic trust. I trust that the green grocer will not try to fleece me. I trust that other people will not cut in line in front of me and generally they do not. Our personal relationships, are governed by trust. I implicitly believe that my friends and family genuinely care about me.

But once in a while, someone along the chain breaks our  trust. The odd fellow who cut ahead, or a friend whose words hurt, the motorist who did not stop at the red light or the kid who ran onto the road and for a bit, our composure is shaken. We feel cheated: find ourselves thrown off balance by that breach of trust until we dust ourselves off and continue like before.

However, they are some individuals who are oddly suspicious. They never eat at pot lucks. ( God knows how the food was prepared!) They have strange conspiracy theories about everything from drinking water to toilet paper to world politics. Everyone is out to get them and all surfaces must be disinfected and hands sanitized a million times a day. A walk in the park might result in tick fever and Lyme disease, a neighbour might be a pervert, the kid selling candy might have poisoned it - all of which I agree are valid possibilities but not considerations most of us spend our time obsessing over. I am no psychologist and have no idea why some people are more suspicious than others but can't help but wonder at the reason.

Also, interesting to note that some societies are marked by a complete breakdown of trust. Out there, when you drive down the road, you know that no one will follow the rules. You know that everyone is out trying to watch out for themselves and you have to as well. Adjusting to life in such a reality means being suspicious all the time of everyone. What happens to the brain when it always feels threatened? What happens when you always have to be vigilant? Do your personal relationships also suffer from suspicion and fear? Do you spend time agonizing over whether your loved ones actually love you or is it all a sham, a lie?

What happens to society as a whole after decades of living with a lack of trust in everyone around you? When might is right becomes the only rule of law and citizens know better than to trust the government then what happens to the characters of the people in that society, both as individuals and as a whole? How fast can you walk, constantly looking over your shoulder? What kind of progress can a country make when there is no harmony within?

I have no answers, just a whole lot of questions leading nowhere. Wait, let me just check over my shoulder, after all in today's world; you never know who might be listening in. :-) 

1 comment:

  1. Most likely if most people are trusting you will follow the rules, and maybe you all are trusting each other to follow rules, then there's a good chance everyone will.