On Trust

Mar. 11th, 2012 09:49 pm
coffeebuzz: (Default)
I've always been the sort of person who prefers to believe the best about people -- individually and collectively -- rather than the worst.

You might call me a cockeyed optimist, or say that my faith in humanity is misplaced. You might call me naive, I suppose, although after close to half a century on this planet I think that might be stretching things a bit. I've witnessed, heard of and directly experienced plenty of things that would certainly provide justification for an absence of trust, or at least a large dose of skepticism over the existence of mankind's better nature, etc. That is, if I were willing to allow myself to become jaded.

But, you see, that's the point. I'm not willing to let that happen.

I approach the concept of trust with my eyes open. I know that people don't always do right by one another. I've experienced this myself. And I know that it is so easy to say one thing and do something completely different. Again, I've experienced this -- from both sides, sadly. Oh, I won't deliberately make a promise and then renege, but I've had circumstances change and prevent me from carrying through on things. I feel awful every time it happens, too... and I prefer to believe that other people feel bad when they can't follow through on things they've promised me. Even though I  know that some folks don't even bat an eye, whether on the giving or receiving end of the equation, I have to believe that most people will try to do what they say they will, and won't take any pleasure in failing to do so. That they might even feel guilt over it.

In short, I believe that honor is a virtue, and I sincerely believe that I am not the only person who sees it thus. Honor is a virtue, as is trustworthiness... but each of those things requires its complement to function. Trustworthiness might as well be invisible if no one is willing to place their trust in you. And honorable people are best perceived by those who recognize honor and appreciate it. As the Russian playwright and author Anton Chekhov famously wrote: "You must trust and believe in people, or life becomes impossible." Life is difficult enough without the need to carry a heavy burden of suspicion; surely it would be impossible if I were to add that to my load. And so, I don't.

I can hear the question going through your mind. "But CB, how can you trust everyone? Hasn't anyone ever deliberately abused your trust? And once that happens, can you seriously continue to give it to the other people you meet?" Don't get me wrong. I've had my trust abused countless times. I've had everyone from parents and teachers to friends and lovers break promises. I've been cheated on by lovers, lied to and about by friends; hell, I had an abusive boyfriend when I was a young college student. Talk about things that will erode one's trust! Believe me, plenty of stuff has happened in my life, and I have no illusions about living in some happily-ever-after world where everything and everyone is perfect.

And yet...

You see, I am a whole person. I came into this world a whole, entire person, and I am determined to remain that way. No one can change me without my permission. And I have not given anyone permission to take away from me the ability to trust, which I feel is one of my most precious possessions. I refuse to become jaded, to become less than who I am meant to be, or to allow anyone to leave me less whole than I was when they first crossed my path.

Cautious? Sure; I know how to be cautious. I understand how to protect myself against those who would take advantage of me and of my trusting nature. But in each and every situation, I have to weigh the cost of those safeguards against the cost of having my trust abused. That weighing is what determines the extent to which I am willing to go to protect myself. And if that protection is likely to also prevent me from fully experiencing the potential good in an encounter or interaction or new friendship, that's a pretty high price. Granted, if someone has given me reason to expect that they will take advantage of me, then I generally will be on my guard. But if I know a person, or am getting to know them and they have given me no cause to mistrust them, then my default setting is to trust, at least within reason.

I also believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt when appropriate. We all make mistakes, and I would certainly hope that others would be lenient with me as regards the ones I make. However, I can hardly ask others to grant me a leniency that I myself am not willing to give. Therefore, I do my best to look for the best in others, as I would hope they will do when looking at me.

Going out into the world each day, mindful of the fact that we are all human, all of us at one and the same time both flawed and yet perfect... for the state of being flawed is natural to us, and therefore we would be imperfectly natural without it... this is what it is to retain one's own full self, I think. And trust is a big part of that.

coffeebuzz: (Default)
If you're going to make a value judgment about someone, wouldn't it be better to actually know what they're like and base it on that, rather than on wild-assed guesswork and erroneous assumptions? Not to mention hurling accusations at them on the basis of the same guesswork and assumptions.

Just an idea...
coffeebuzz: (Default)
I don't spent nearly as much time on internet discussion boards as I used to, but every now and then I'll still chime in on something or other. Got into an argument on one today, over the subject of health care.

Seems some folks still don't understand that not everyone has health insurance through their employer, and that if you don't have employer-sponsored coverage, getting your own can be hideously expensive. It's even more expensive if you have any sort of pre-existing condition, if you're female, or (shudder) both.

While I don't particularly agree with the method used by what is popularly termed "Obamacare" (a moniker I abhor for a variety of reasons) which primarily drives business to the insurance companies -- I'd far prefer a system more akin to Canada's, which removes the profit element altogether -- the fact remains that every person deserves and needs to have health coverage. Everyone is at risk for illness or injury; that's a simple fact of life. Even the healthiest among us can get sick, and it's entirely possible to suffer an injury in the course of daily living or while engaged in activities intended to increase or maintain one's level of physical fitness. As someone who has experienced all of the above (and who managed to inherit a defective gene besides), I'll be the first to tell you that there is no sure-fire way to guarantee the avoidance of health issues for the entirety of one's lifetime, no matter who you are or how healthy your personal habits may be.

That's why the whiners who go on about "personal responsibility" and "socialism" annoy the crap out of me. These are the people who complain that they shouldn't be expected to help foot the bill for someone else's health needs. When asked whether they have health insurance and pay taxes, of course they nod and say yes. Then where do they think their premium dollars go, I ask them, and who do they think currently pays the bill for the uninsured who obtain their care at expensive ERs in the absence of insurance and a personal physician, and who often cannot pay the bill?

The question garners a blank look nearly every time I've asked it to a person's face, and quite a lot of vitriol when asked online. The fact is that these people are ALREADY paying the freight for other people's healthcare. That's what insurance does: it spreads out the cost of treatment across the entire pool of insured persons. And guess what? Your tax dollars help to fund the hospitals who treat even the uninsured. Not to mention the fact that this second item helps to drive up the overall cost of care, especially to those forced to pay out of pocket because they lack insurance. (Insurance companies negotiate better pricing for themselves and their patients. It's all about the power of the purse.)

Seriously, shouldn't this sort of basic understanding be taught in schools? It isn't rocket science, people.

July 2017



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