Sunday, January 29, 2017


1. Trust has something to do with expectation of the possibility of error or deceit. If we think that someone is potentially wrong in decision or action, then we might not give full confidence. If we notice someone will be deceiving us how can we trust that person?

2. Trust can be partial or total. To someone we might say, "I know you can make mistakes and I am not sure how far you will be ok, but let me allow you this time". Here trust is partial. But we might say to someone, "I fully trust whatever you want to do". This is total. The experience of having someone deceive us completely leads us to withdraw trust maybe totally.

3. Of course there can be risks in trusting. So implicit in trusting is reciprocity. I trust you, you trust me. Someone will say, "Trust me, I am not lying." We get involved in different relationships with people in the hope that things turn out well. We might be disappointed, of course. This is why we hear questions like, “Can you trust that person who will only cheat you in the end?” In trust we expect what will result in a relationship.

4. Notice that there is vulnerability involved. Is it possible to eliminate or diminish this vulnerability? We can be disappointed. Or we might disappoint others. Yet, we recognize that in almost all relationships, agreements and contracts there is vulnerability. We do experience disappointments. Errors happen. How often have we turned suspicious of others—and become very mistrustful of them? Or how often have others been mistrustful of us?

5. Can we say that trust can be completely and definitively present in all our involvement with others? Or do we have to check others from time to time to see if we can trust them always? Is trust is stable or not? Can we give absolute confidence in someone without needing to check now and then? Each of us may have had expereinces about this question.

6. Let us try to see some features of trust.

7. Trust involves an expectation. We think of of what might happen and we have in mind possible events that can confirm or disconfirm our trust in someone.

8. Trust involves information. When we trust, when we place confidence onsomeone we base our disposition on some amount of information about the other person. We might say “I know that person, so I trust (or not trust) that person”. If we do not know the person we might need to check some information. Sometimes we might be giving full trust even in the absence of knowing the other person.

9. In trust there is no absolute control of the situation. Trusting others will still have an element of non-control. We do not have full control of what will happen next. We are not all powerful creatures. This is part of our vulnerability. A complete control of the future is out of anyone’s reach.

10. Of course trust is important. How can we get involved with others and say it is not important to trust? This is so evident, yet it needs to be mentioned. Trust always places us in a risk. The results are never completely certain. There can be deceptions along the way. There can be disappointments. But there can be surprising results that are so unexpectedly positive and wonderful too! We cannot absolutely foresee the future. When we give confidence, we take some risks.

11. One of the serious experiences we have today in our modern world is that we are diversified AND SEPARATED by specializations. A medical doctor may be very good in medicine but might not know how the legal system works. So the medical doctor who gets into legal problems will consult a lawyer; the medical doctor not an expert in law. The reverse happens. A lawyer who is ill goes to a doctor and does not know what exactly the doctor will do. In society we lack information about what others do. We rely on them for many of our needs. We rely on doctors, lawyers, engineers, politicians, cooks, businessmen, etc. We put trust in them.  . 

12. People who are experts in their fields can be very honest and serious with what they do. So when we trust them we experience the guarantee of their honesty. We go to a medical doctor trusting that the doctor will do the best to address our illness. We use the electricity trusting that the electrical experts do their best to give us the right service. 

13. But we also face disappointments. Our trust is met with the failure of others to do their honest work. Often, it is the person who trusts who repents when disappointed. “I should have known I will be cheated”.

14. Trust today does not always guarantee certainty. We need to be selective in our trust. We use our heads, we think things over, we might even have second thoughts about our dealings with others. We probably have to place trust only after some time of discernment. We inform ourselves about others. By doing this we reduce—or hope to reduce—risks. After discernment we may then put trust on someone. We know that we will have to open up to the possibility of continuing relationships. But we operate with the assumption that things are now founded on better information and discrnment, we can now trust.

15. Life has become complicated and complex. It is not as easy as we might want—we cannot “just trust anyone”. Let us see the different “degrees” of trusting.

A. There is trust because of familiarity. Simply put, this is the trust we have with others close to us—friends, people we love, family members. We are so familiar with each other we “trust” each other quite deeply—without much asking “why”. Of course we must find this level important and basic—imagine not trusting even the family! Trust in familiarity is quite taken for granted, we raise little or no questions about it. We simply admit without questioning “I trust you”. In fact, we do not think we are taking risks in this trust. (It will be absurd to say, “If I love my mother I will be taking risks”.) Take note that we are “at home” in this level. This is our home-base in life. This is the region of the unquestioned. Here we put ourselves in the hands of others. We need this home base.
B.  There is general trust. When we move in society we have a general trust of the way things work and the way people behave. I go to the store and I trust that the cashier is not cheating me. I open a bottle of mineral water I trust that the content is not poisonous. I read about the news I trust that there is a certain objectivity in the reporting. There is minimum of trust going on in society. We meet people—even those we do not know—and we have to put some trust in what they say and do. This trust is at work in the bus, the train, the stores, the offices, etc. We might have to calculate our moves from time to time, of course. We question prices. We question the truthfulness of the information on the products we buy. We might need to control what others do to us. But in general we need to move within society with a minimum of trust. We do not go out of the house wearing a full load of guns and knives.
C. Then there is trust in a context with people we do not know—not in the same way that we know our families and friends. When we engage in trust with these other people, we need to arrive at some point when we do not calculate nor control the situation. We make the decision to believe in the words of others even when uncertain of what they say and do—precisely because we do not know them as much as we know people we love. We engage in links with others in the hope that it is possible to open more areas of relationships and contracts.
D. But remember we deal here with people who have nothing to do with our hearts. They are not members of the familiar sphere. So confidence here is a matter of choice. We choose to trust them. (We do not choose to love papa, we simply love him, that’s it.) Yet, we put confidence on these people—almost like we do with those we love. There is a thin line differentiating trust to family and trust to people we choose to trust. But in trusting people outside the family and friends circle we know, at least in the back of our minds, there are risks and we know we make choices.

16. On this level of confidence we can note some aspects: 

A. We take risks. We take a minimum to have information. Often lack of information leads to bigger risks. Of course there will always be lack of full information—even if a contract is well formulated. There is always the margin of “taking advantage”. (See if you have a term for this in your language—“taking advantage”.) Because trusting is here choice, then information is still a necessary element.
B. There is interdependence. We depend on each other. We trust others and take the initiative in giving confidence. The other person is required to honor the trust given.
C. There is vulnerability. Because of the lack of full information and the presence of risks, there is vulnerability. The act of confidence is to hope that the other person honors the agreement. This also means the possibility that we can drop the agreement. 

17. Having trust in others is much part of doing business. In general we might ask ourselves—what needs more control and supervision? In dealings like buying-selling, we people trust each other, do we need more supervision and control?

18. Let us see if this is true. In a society where people are trustworthy, relationships are more cooperative. Suspicion and lack of trust blocks people. Yes, suspicion comes in a society wherein people are not trustworthy. There is more felt need to protect one’s interests and to avoid cooperating with others. Is trust strong in your society?

19. Suspicion and control serve as counterweights of confidence. Confidence reduces complexity—relationships become more simple. (This is why a society that promotes confidence is a society that opens more to information. We need to know each other more so that we can relate. This is modernity!) Choosing to trust others is not done in the absence of information. Not today. Ok, we agree that information is not totally given. But transparency is a requirement for the promotion of confidence.

20. To decide on having a society of suspicion and control is unhealthy—it does not help in securing cooperation and mutuality. Sure, we are in-between full confidence and full suspicion. What kind of society do we want? An extreme will be naïve and blind, we agree. Full confidence without caution is a blind move…just as full suspicion is too.

21. It is possible that confidence is an alternative to control! The more people trust each other, the less they need for all the controls like police, courts, etc. But, the other side is that confidence might need to be cultivated with the use of control. A minimum of control might be necessary to make confidence function well.

22. The decision to trust must consider many things. We need to avoid naïve and blind trusting—not in our modern world. We might need to develop information transparency. We might need to have a minimum of control.

23. In the world of economic-business relationships the tension between confidence and suspicion costs a lot. If there is so much suspicion, why invest? Why let money roll? But if people are more trustworthy, investments will be based on confidence too.

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