Trust: Various Facets

The dictionary meaning of trust is “firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.” The synonyms of trust give fairly broad idea about the meaning of trust. They include confidence, belief, faith, freedom from suspicion/doubt, sureness, certainty, certitude, assurance, conviction, credence and reliance etc. Whether it is friendship or relationship all bonds are built on trust. Without trust life is hopeless, uncertain and meaningless. But breaking the trust is common occurrence, more observed in real life than keeping the trust.

Relationships are about trust. Stephen R. Coovey says, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”  Trust gives hope, a kind of certainty in our existence and a reason to live, serve and give. It is so defining for a good and happy life that Frank Crane said, “You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don’t trust enough.”

Trust is necessary for individuals, societies, institutions and even for nations. A system without the element of trust always operates below its potential and it has no life. Trust brings out the best from all participants in a system and so it enhances productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. Trust is built through a bond of love, care and concern. Trust is built by honesty, integrity and sensitivity. It is also built by transparency and accountability. Trust is built by conviction and consistency in your ideas and practice. Trust is earned when actions meet words. In life perfect people are not needed as much as honest, dependable and consistent people are.

There is no halfway in trust—there is trust or no trust. Trust should not be blind, nevertheless. Everyone cannot be trusted. One needs to be very selective about the people to be trusted. Verification of facts and experiences need to be reckoned while trusting.Trust is a positive attribute, but it is prone to be belied and broken. There are trust issues because people have got lying issues.  Great existential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre said, “The worst thing about being lied to is knowing you are not worth the truth.” This means that if somebody befools you by telling a lie or doing a false promise and you just believe without verifying, the onus of broken trust lies on you to a great extent.  The saying goes like this: Don’t trust what you see, even salt looks like sugar” or “everything that glitters, is not gold.”  In other words Stephen King explains, “The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.” Innocence or ignorance is thus no excuse for heartbreak or deception caused to you by somebody else.

There are many ways to verify. One practical test is that whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters. Where there is no truth, trust would be a wrong choice because trust starts with truth and ends with truth. One of the important cautions in maintaining trust is analyzing real evidence from the past and present about a thing or person. Actually it’s hard to trust when all you have from the past is evidence of why you shouldn’t. Those who keep their promises and commitment should be trusted. Those, whose speech and actions do not match, cannot be trusted. But there is a caution, you can’t trust a promise those who are under the influence of intense emotion or out of their senses. If somebody who makes promises while s/he is drunk, in love, hungry, or running for office, s/he cannot be trusted. Aesop also said, never trust the advice of a man in difficulties. This statement presumes that the poor lack the strength and mental state to positively and meaningfully commit or do something. Contrary to this, E. M. Foster says, “To trust people is a luxury in which only the wealthy can indulge; the poor cannot afford it.” This again presumes that trusts are broken rather than maintained and the poor people may be ruined, if they trust (because they do not have the capacity to withstand shocks). This is again a situational statement. This statement nevertheless is true only in particular contexts, not always. One of the modern state makers Mussolini remarked that it’s good to trust others but, not to do so is much better. Joseph Stalin also had a similar kind of weird idea about trust. He said, “ I trust no one, not even myself.” These are situation and context based statements. These statements do not encompass the positives of trust, but only personal experiences and surroundings.

Words of wisdom say that people may only be trusted only if they are able to see three things in you: the sorrow behind your smile, the love behind your anger, and the reason behind your silence. To be precise people can be trusted only if they are sensitive, sensible, sincere, honest, consistent and truthful. Sometimes you don’t know who you can and cannot trust. It is a continuous process; trust is learning over and over again. Some commentators say that a trust is a fragile thing— easy to break, easy to lose and one of the hardest things to ever get back. Such kind of opinions is based on personal experiences and surroundings. William Shakespeare suggested a wise strategy — “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

Despite all this, Trust is that rare and priceless treasure that wins us the affection of all and our heavenly Father. It is said that if people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you. Trust is an attribute, which a moralist should carry and so trust should be the basis for all our moral training. Trust leads to approachability and open communications. To conclude in the words of Gary Hamel, “Trust is not simply a matter of truthfulness, or even constancy. It is also a matter of amity and goodwill. We trust those who have our best interests at heart, and mistrust those who seem deaf to our concerns.”

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