Despite all the reasons not to trust these days, trust can still be enjoyed. At playgroup, little hands seek bigger ones to guide them up and down slides, along balance beams and to address inequities amongst small peers. Pre-schoolers’ confidence in their loving protectors is a joy to see and usually well placed. We see elderly people, whose sensory capacity has diminished, lovingly escorted into public places by those who care for them. There is a rightness to this (vastly simplified) circle of life, of trusting dependence to independence and back again.
During the intervening years, distrust takes root. We struggle to believe anyone in authority now, as seen in the last election campaign. Reasons to distrust are highlighted everywhere we look, with counter arguments and hostilities playing out before us. We are urged to distrust those who should lead us with high integrity, which creates confusion and disappointment. To add to our dilemma, there is no longer a common story to which we assent and find hope and direction. Even those with religious beliefs struggle, when their lives take unexpected, unwanted turns.
Maybe we expect too much of others? No mortal can sincerely promise to never disappoint. As much as we try, we can’t please everyone all the time. And my understanding of God’s promises is not to guarantee a trouble-free life, but an accompanied life, with some guidance and comfort along the way. Hence, lowering our bar a little, to allow room for imperfection in others and life, helps us become less cynical.
Distrusting everyone is not only exhausting, it stymies positive action. Sitting on the fence of indecision, fearing to trust either side, immobilises us. Conducting our research into issues of importance, from the credible sources we most trust, helps us move off the fence. Realising that some people really are for us, even if we don’t always agree, can be liberating. They allow us to engage in a real exchange of ideas, where doubts and uncertainties can be aired and sometimes laid to rest. Can you identify some trusted sources and people?
It's easy to be cynical, but most people I know, mean well. We can be part of the trust solution, by making good on our promises. When we let others down, an apology can restore trust for the occasional wrong. Be gentle on others for their sporadic slips too. None of us are perfect. Forming genuine relationships of trust brings joy and enables us to progress worthy goals.
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The articles here were written by Peter Andrews on behalf of the Chaplaincy Team from beginning 2023.