Our society revolves around trust. From the first moments of our existence we have to trust our parents to feed us and nurture us. As we grow older, we trust our friends with secrets, and we trust their opinions, knowledge, and advice. We put our trust in cab drivers, bus drivers, pilots, doctors, teachers, and everyone else, and we have to put trust in ourselves.
Today, trust is not seen as much as it used to be, and it is much more dangerous. We sign strict contracts for business deals instead of shaking hands. We need thousands of cop cars to roam the streets instead of a single police office. To order something off the internet we look at pictures to prove we are not hacker robots. And when someone betrays another’s trust, the dispute can last for years. So what has changed? How did we go from friendly traders who invited strangers to break bread in their homes, to a semi-paranoid race afraid to keep their back door unlocked?
We have not changed. Neither have our motives. What has changed is how we survive. Since the beginning humans and all other living things have been filled with the need to survive. Instead of hunting animals and gathering seeds for survival we are now hunting money and gathering skills for good-paying jobs. Instead of following a flowing river to eat we are now following cash flows to get our food. In order to survive, people will do what they believe is necessary. If this means a person has to go back on a serious promise, then is it ever safe to give someone your trust? Probably not, except for a few cases. The world is a lot more complicated than it used to be, and there are more ways to survive, but more ways to die. Balancing on the precipice of disaster can strike a chord in people that incites them to take drastic measures to ensure their own personal safety. If everyone went back on their word with no proof and consequences for serious decisions, then our world would be as unorganized as Stop and Shop on Super Bowl Sunday.
While specific people can go back on their word, another reason our society has become less trusting is that sometimes we do not know who or what we are interacting with. On social media, a 75 year-old man can hide behind the profile picture of a 27 year-old and most people would have no idea. There has never been such an easy and accessible form of deception, and in a world where anything can be anything, it is impossible for someone to put their trust in something if they do not know what it is. Again, this is why we have internet passwords, the “block” button, and so many other rules and regulations that help keep the internet and life itself as real as it can be.
After hearing all the things we cannot trust, the world sounds like a pretty terrible place. On the contrary, this just makes the things we can trust that much sweeter. It is a refuge to know that we have our families and close friends who we can confide in and speak freely too. We can trust all the natural things in life, and to know that there is still purity residing under all the cities, deep in the oceans, and up in the canopies of trees is a surprisingly comfortable thought. The religions and philosophies we follow are there as unwavering lessons that have not changed for a long time. We are also forced to put our trust in these mechanisms for regulating deception in the world in hopes that they will work. The world is not a place without trust. While we cannot believe everything we hear and read, nor can we leave our car unlocked in the middle of the city, we can still put our faith in some things, and usually these are the things that matter the most to us. Do not be afraid to trust. It is a beautiful thing. But it is beautiful only if it is invested in the right place, otherwise things can turn ugly fast.