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Trust is Something you Give

A clean and sober alcoholic reaches out to save a homeless alcoholic who later breaks into his house, attempts to rob him, and ends up stabbing him to death…

A long time trusted  church bookkeeper is found to be stealing hundreds of thousands from the church that trusted her….

A “benevolent” man approaches a homeless mom and her children begging for money outside of a department store.  The man befriends the family, takes them inside the store, buys them all kinds of things they need, and wins their trust. During shopping spree he offers to run out for some burgers for the whole family. The naïve and innocent daughter offers to go with him and the desperate mom has a moment of ill-fated trust.  The child is later found dead, the registered sex offender arrested is the prime suspect and is held without bail.

A “beloved, elder priest” is found guilty of molesting the young boys with whom he is entrusted…

An elderly couple on a modest fixed income is billed out of their life savings by a dishonest financial consultant…

A college coed is offered a ride home from a co-worker in the cafeteria, offered a soda on the way home, which is laced with a date rape drug.  Hours later she finds herself the victim of her trust…

There is an old song that says it so clearly, from the musical South Pacific by Richard Rogers called:

“You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”

It goes like this:

“You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught! ”

We teach our children to fear and distrust strangers, yet we want them to appreciate diversity and difference.  In tribal life, generations ago, folks often defaulted to believing that anyone who was from another tribe, with different features, customs and ways of life were to be feared, not to be trusted.  The  foundation for suspicion of anything different and foreign lives on the roots our culture.

Both messages here are tragic.  No one wants to live in a world that is plagued by these isolated tragedies, or guided by prejudice, fear, racism and mistrust. Few of us want to walk down the street resenting homeless folks, spend our lives worrying about those that we entrust our children to, locking, double locking and triple locking our doors at night.  The billions we spend on security, safety and protection could be better spent .

We are sad to have to fear a lone “well-meaning grandpa” in the park who is justifiably reticent to help a small child who has fallen and is crying for fear his action be misunderstood.  It is a sad reality to fear those who can help us.

We still have to teach our small children to be leery of strangers who are innocent and kind. “Don’t look anyone in the eye while you are walking down the street”.  “Don’t trust anyone you don’t know who sends you an email.” “Don’t believe anything you read on a cardboard sign held by a desperate or needy person.”

How do we teach trust, good judgment and gut intuition to our children? How do we protect them from the dangers of the unknown, of those who take innocent people for granted, of those who will harm you in your vulnerable, trusting moments?  How can we protect them from cyberspace abuses? How do we avoid the temptation of  defaulting to cynicism, distrust, fear, prejudice, racism, stereotyping and unfair generalizations?

-We can teach our children not who to trust, rather how to trust.

-We cannot indoctrinate them with negative feelings, suspicion and scary stories; rather we can build their instincts, foster them with good decision making skills and support their intuition.

-We can offer them our own model of honor, trust, dignity and integrity.

-We can teach them discretion, pause, common sense and reasonable restraint.

-We can instill in them healthy values for choosing friends and how to create an inner circle of trust.

-We can teach them that cheating, deceiving, stealing and selfish opportunism can cause them to be doubted, mistrusted, and passed over.

-We can teach them to default to doing the right thing, saying yes and no and maybe at the right time, thinking things through and when in doubt seeking advice and counsel.

Trust is something you give.   Someone can’t induce you, entice you or demand your trust.   Someone cannot even earn or deserve or be entitled to your trust. Trust is a major decision that you unilaterally make.  If someone violates your trust, and asks for it back, do not confuse compassion, mercy, understanding and forgiveness with learning a lesson and reassessing the trust you give.

“Trust” means living your life according to what you believe and have faith in.  Faith isn’t about trusting something you can’t see. It has been said that “Faith is believing in what you know”.  Trust is something that you give selectively, hold close, and guard with your heart.  And as Mark Twain said, don’t forget that, “Faith is believing in what you know ain’t so,” as well.

By Rick Concoff c2013

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