Our Disposition of Trust
Trust is defined as a “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” When we are born we learn to trust our parents. The mother’s arms are the first abode we get acquainted to; whenever we are in need we look for her. A little later we hear our parents telling us to trust other people. Our uncles and aunts, our cousins and friends.
This exercise of trusting people forms the basis of our learning and social development. Unless we trust the other, we will not be open to their perspective or their person. Trust, then, is a key habit for our development.
Trust is critical and these days it is in very short supply. The other day we were driving to a client and lost our way. This was in the industrial area in the city. An old man was sat on the roadside outside a little shop. We decided to ask him for directions. At our inquiry he said, “you must have come the wrong way, here on there is nothing but barren land.” We thanked the man for his assistance and as we were turning around he smiled at us and said, “You have come far, would you like some tea or water?” We thanked him for the gesture and went looking for the client’s factory.
On our way to the factory, I kept thinking about his gesture. How people in the city would barely offer a stranger a smile, let alone tea or water. I thought of how when we were little, you could see kind gestures on the street. Now, people like to be ‘safe’ and ‘cautious’. Our disposition of trust has changed. It used to be, ‘I trust you, unless you break my trust’; its become, ‘I don’t trust you, unless you earn my trust’. We have lost trust in humanity.
The repercussions of this switch in our disposition are deep and harmful. A simple walk down the street is filled with fear and distrust of those around you. We walk out, scan the vicinity for strangers and manage our speed and route in accordance. Constantly monitoring our surroundings for any eminent danger. We don’t notice the birds chirping, the wind blowing in the trees, the clouds in the sky — only focused on motorcycles riding by and the stealing gazes of strangers. The same walk, with trust in those around would mean we notice the beauty and richness of the moment. Trusting the humanity around us to be one with us in case something untoward happens.
A drive to the cinema becomes a nightmare. Specially, if it’s a late night show. Driving through the city, being weary of the drivers around us. People we don’t know. They probably don’t have anything better to do than to harm us. The walk from the parking lot to the cinema is an ordeal in itself, thinking of all the Hollywood movies you’ve seen where the protagonist is mugged in a parking lot or a train station. While inside the cinema we can’t even enjoy the movie. We spend the time doubting the intent of the person next to us, every time our arms brush we think its intentional and evil. With trust, you enjoy the drive, feel the wind in your face as you step out of your car, and enjoy the plots and subplots of the movie with emotion.
Trust changes our outlook of life. We have free mind space to think of more important things. We observe more, we look for opportunity, we connect more with our world. A life of trust gives us more perspective, a wider view of the world and subsequently the ability to synthesize ideas and be more creative. It gives us a chance to focus on what is important in life. Community, creativity, and happiness.
I live in Karachi (one of the biggest cities in the world), I’ve been driving past the Tipu Sultan Signal for 10 years now. I must’ve driven through it more than 1,000 times. I was mugged at the same signal, just once. Since that day whenever I get on to that road all I think of is things that can go wrong. My contention is that the price we pay in terms of worrying for the 999 times is much higher than that 1 time mugging.