It’s an overused word. And it’s apparently an overused concept. I am struggling mightily with the idea of trust. My entire life it’s been easy to know who to trust, when to trust and why to trust.
I’ve had an inherent trust in journalists. Perhaps driven by watching how dogged journalism was the route to the truth during Watergate when I was at a pretty impressionable age. Journalism was my dream career.
I’ve had an inherent trust of the government to do the right thing. A belief that while disagreements can and should exist, that the best interests of the whole of the people is what mattered and would prevail. I’ve voted for just as many Republican candidates as Democratic ones – preferring to align to the people, their character and their policies instead of dogma, and trusted them to do the right things.
I’ve had inherent trust in my career choices. I’ve largely been right, with a couple exceptions. A huge factor (including in the poor choices) was based on the quality of the people. I’ve always felt that if you worked with good people, and had mutual trust (in addition to hard work, vision, value, etc.), good things would result. I believe that the people I’ve had the honor of working for, with and above are amazing people, many of whom I consider among my best friends.
I guess I’ve either been lucky in my choices, or that I am somewhat discerning.
At some point in everything we do, trust comes into play.
- Trust that the person you fall in love with is the right one.
- Trust that your kids will do the right thing.
- Trust that your friends will have your back, as they trust you to have theirs.
- There are many more examples.
I am a very trusting person – perhaps overly relying on the good discernment mentioned above. I’ve largely been blessed with the ability to read people and their intent. Maybe it’s simpler than that: at the end-of-the-day, I think that good things happen to good people, and good people are inherently trustworthy. I also believe that I am fundamentally a good person. Your mileage may vary.
Some events the last couple of years have caused me to reevaluate trust, and not in a good way. Thankfully, this has nothing to do with my family life, or with my truly meaningful relationships, but some events have shaken me to the core of my fundamental trust-centered belief system.
First, the idea that journalism, an institution I hold with high esteem, has been so devalued. The idea of the existence or concept of fake news and alternative facts is tough for me to digest. Some of it is enabled by widespread access to information (thank you, Tim Berners-Lee Read About Tim) but some if it is simply propaganda. You would think that only 70 years removed from Nazi Germany, that our instinct to distrust or to identify propaganda would be stronger. It clearly isn’t.
Second, my trust of the government to do the right thing has dropped over the last few years. I don’t trust in the government as much anymore, not entirely because of who we’ve elected or who they’ve appointed, but because there is no longer a prism of protecting, or even caring about what matters to the whole of the people. The idea that elected officials will only listen to some of their constituents is disgraceful. Watch This
The distance between right and left was a small gap (slightly off center, in either direction) in every election I voted in from 1980 to 2008 – spanning Reagan to Obama. The farthest “right” we’ve ever been, versus the furthest “left”. Now there’s a seemingly uncrossable chasm. The dumbing down of the populace (who only hear soundbytes, and only listen to their personal echo chambers) and the proliferation of so much propaganda has only served to make it worse.
Lastly, I’ve learned a very hard lesson about trusting people. A few years ago, after Tealeaf was acquired by IBM, I was approached by people (who I had recently met and become friends with) who had started a company making & selling cycling clothing for women. They were bootstrapping this business themselves and were unable at that early stage to borrow money or attract institutional investment. They wanted money from me
They had a good idea, they seemed like solid business people. The goal of them uniquely equipping women on the bike (and the fact they were women starting their own small business) appealed to my interests and passions. I reviewed their business plan and was impressed. I did as much diligence as I could do (I had recently gone through a corporate due diligence process myself). I met some of their family. Ultimately, I thought the idea was good, I thought there was opportunity there and I trusted the people.
I offered to invest, but they didn’t want to dilute their equity in their newly formed business, so they asked if I would instead make them a loan, with agreed upon terms & interest, secured by a legal note. It was a sizeable sum, but I wasn’t going to retire on what I loaned them, nor would I retire on the return. Ultimately, my motivation was far more altruistic – simply trying to help friends turn a dream into a reality. Because Trust.
I’ll assume you know where this is going. Short story, they screwed me. Wait, this is MY blog, so I can say what I want to: I got fucked. By “friends”. Who I trusted.
Who lied to me at every step. Who now document their apparently happy lifestyles on social media, trumpeting what wonderfully successful business people they are, touting how special and blessed their lives are (they even created their own personal hashtag about that, no less), showing off their new homes, and their frequent vacations – essentially slapping me in the face every fucking day. There is not an iota of remorse, or even regret, for what they’ve done. There has never been an apology or even an acknowledgment of what they did to me (never paying me back). Let’s face it, they stole my money.
Worse, they stole a central tenet of my life: my trust. My trust finally failed me.
I was never their friend, I was simply a sucker. A “mark” to be conned. Maybe their commitment to pay me back was never even real, it was simply alternative facts.
Because that’s the new normal. You can appeal to people, sucker them in with lies & bullshit, and then fuck them over, smiling and enriching yourself at the same time. It’s no longer shameful, it’s now downright Presidential!
Which makes perfect sense in the new “bizarro” world, where journalists are now the enemy of the people, and are not to be trusted – the 1st amendment be damned! (but don’t ever make the mistake of questioning the 2nd).
And it makes perfect sense because the people charged with our governing no longer even pretend to be representative please read this, instead showing every day that they do what they want, not what the majority wants. So my trust in them is… well, you get the point.
From now on, I will base my belief system not solely on trust, but also in humanity. Real people. People with hearts & with souls.
Because I still believe in good people. I’ll trust you do too. Fuck the rest of them.
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