Tag Archives: trust discussion

“Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly, and they will show themselves great.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, First Series:  Prudence , 1841

I love this quote; it may not convery the truth of the situation, but it presents an optimistic view on the nature of humans, and I admire that, because I hope to rediscover that feeling.  I do have a question regarding the word usage, though—what defines ‘trust‘?  Is it an emotionally driven thing, or one controlled by logic and reason?  If the sort of trust discussed in this sentence is that which we bestow upon our loved ones, how do we explain the fact that, oftentimes, they are not ‘true’?  Mothers and fathers are not able to fulfill all of our wants and needs, which we trust them to do; they do not always “show themselves greatly” when given the power of a parent.   Perhaps the trust Mr. Emerson attempted to convey is the sort we must ponder carefully before presenting to another; possible outcomes must be conisdered, and all benefits and losses (potential, improbable, and otherwise) weighed with all the honesty and gravity they deserve.

The instinctiveness of the first sort of trust is something many people identify with,  as evidenced in stories where mothers “just knew” their daughter’s new boyfriend was a bad egg.   The parent trusts her instincts fully, believing that she is doing what’s best for her ‘little girl’; the daughter trusts the boy not to break her heart or treat her like crap, because she wants to believe that he’s a ‘good guy’ and that she’s something special.  Instictive trust is a sort of naivety that, when incorrectly applied, leads to worlds of pain and frustration.

Of course, the seriousness of the second type of trust removes the innocence of the gift.  Are we really trusting others if, before bestowing it upon an individual, we take all possible precautions to prevent potential harm to ourselves?  By taking care of ourselves first, are we not implicitly saying that our statement of trust is a false one?