« Navel-Gazing | Main | Flogging Molly »

On Trust

A little late night musing for you all, something that's been knocking around in my head for a little while. I find myself in the mood to write it out and see how it reads.

The world is big. It's a fact argued by few, but it took a while for the full implications to really settle for me. See, the world is everything, the weather, the landscape, the trees, the air, the plants, the houses, the traffic lights, the trains, the cars, the planes, the people. Everything. And each individual "thing" in the world (a plane, a tree, a person, a mountain, whatever) can be both subdivided into smaller things and also be seen as part of a larger thing. Basically, everything is part of everything else, even though it mightn't seem that way when you just use your eyes to look at the world and see the empty spaces in between everything.

It also means that there is so much, so incredibly much, going on in the world that you can never, ever experience. Bugger what's going on in Paris or the Sudan or wherever, just think about the person or people who live in the house next door, or the people on the other side of them, or even yur best friend who lives on the other side of town. We - by which I mean, I - tend to think about other people in terms of their interactions with me; it's mind-rooting to walk up Riverstone Road and think about each of the houses I go past and the people in each house, people whom I'll probably barely glimpse and will most likely never know, people whose lives have no impact on mine.

Except they do. Everything is part of everything else, and whether gross or infinitely subtle, the lives of the people in these houses on this road, the people around the world and the lives they lead, the lives of the trees, animals, the existences of those things non-living, will have an effect on me, each other and everything else. People talk about the Butterfly Effect all the time, but they rarely consider the full implications, they just keep thinking about that one buttefly, that one choice, that single event. What about each and every event, from the atomic to the massive, in any given instant of time? How does each of those events effect every other thing and every other event? How the hell can anyone make any sort of meaningful prediction about the future? Even the simplest, most seemingly trivial of tasks can be utterly derailed simply by virtue of exisiting in a world as complex as this, no matter how committed the person you trust is (or how comitted you are) or how hard he or she tries (or you try). All it takes is for someone else's life to intersect with your trustee's in an unforeseeable manner, and that's really not that hard; sometimes it seems amazing that people can actually organise their lives with any degree of success.

So what does that mean for trust? It means, I think, that you cannot really trust someone to do something. However, that doesn't mean that trust cannot or should not exist. In the face of this rampant chaos, you can still put your trust in people. If you ask a trustee to do something on your behalf you can trust that, if the trustee doesn't do that thing, it isn't because the trustee wasn't doing his or her level best to get the thing done.

I think that tends to result in saner interpersonal relationships, it puts the focus more on the person and not the thing you want that person to do. I think there's more to this, but I'm winding down now, so I'll leave it here and maybe pick it up later. In the meantime, comments are welcome.

If you liked this post, please check out more Editorials and Musings


you have a deep series of thoughts there. It is definitely worth thinking about ... not stressing, but thinking & realising the inter-connection is good for us all.
BTW - way too philosophical for 11pm on a Sunday.

I think that "Hope" is the word that covers the subject best. We can hope for results, we can hope for a better World, we can hope that we live our lives to the best of our ability. Trust is relying on others to do the right thing, while the only person who can actually achieve our happiness is ourself. It is unfair of us to put that responsibility on another.

"I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul."
'Invictus' by William Ernest Henley

Keep up the analysis darling, but don't get lost in the tangents you'll follow.

PS: Make sure you read that little book I gave you.

My definitions:

Hope is the feeling of desire for a particular outcome to take place.

Trust is the feeling of confidence that an outcome will occur in the way in which you expect.

You do not hope that the sun will rise tomorrow, you trust that it will.

You do not trust that you will win the Lotto, you hope that you will.

When you start applying these concepts to people, you are almost doomed to fail. People have their own foibles that often negate hope and trust. At least at their very basic. You can trust a person to be who they are, hope that they will behave in a manner towards you that is agreeable, but I think it is a lost cause to trust that someone will always act in a certain way.

I think both concepts are ones that are almomst certainly doomed to failure, in the long-term view. However, they are the two concepts that we, as humans, feel the most often in our lives. I just think they are far more ephemeral than most people.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)