Trust and mistrust

If someone doesn’t trust you, chances are it hurts your pride. But when it comes to trust, I think people often get offended by the wrong things. I believe it is up to all of us, all the time, to prove ourselves trustworthy. Other people should never be expected to trust us without our having proved ourselves and we should never be offended when other people ask for proof or safeguards. In fact, we should give these without being asked.

Unlike most people, who get offended when others don’t show full trust in them, I personally feel offended when people fail to prove themselves trustworthy. For example, I am insulted when a shop assistant offers to print out my cheque and asks me to sign it first. To me, it’s courtesy to print the cheque before expecting a customer to sign it – to do otherwise is to suggest that the customer is a fool.

Similarly, I was once in a syndicate where each week one of us bought a lotto ticket on behalf of the group. When it was my turn, I always scanned the ticket and emailed it to the others before the draw so that they could check the numbers for themselves. When others failed to do the same, I felt insulted by their lack of respect. When I brought this up, they were offended that I “didn’t trust them.”

The idea that “there’s something wrong with you if you don’t trust me” is a strategy used by abusers all the time. When society goes along with the idea that the doubter is the one with the problem, it reinforces this form of control.

I would like to see a society where people are taught to prove themselves as a matter of courtesy, rather than one where people’s egos are bruised because trust is not automatically given.

Trust is of course a good thing, but it is meaningless if given blindly. Mistrust is the counterbalance that makes trust worth something.

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