Saturday, 23 January 2016

Trust Issues

I grew up with a stereotypical dose of measured warnings not to be friendly with strangers and not to place my faith in anybody unless and until I was well acquainted with them. Leading a sheltered, protected life till date, I have often wondered why the world does not deserve my unquestioning acceptance, my total trust.

I have often wondered why, when we meet someone new, the instinct is to fence ourselves and erect a wall of opposition rather than pour out love and honesty into our cursory, pretentious handshakes.
I used to think that people are scared of people, of letting them in, of opening up, of confessing things to them and broadly, of having to deal with pain later on in life. I was wrong. An absence of trust does not come from fearing others. It stems from fearing our own selves.

The world, basically, hinges on trust. 

You show up at school. The territory is strange and frightening. A grown up lady smiles and offers her hand. You have no option but to take it, so you do. For all the years you learn to count and spell, she ensures you develop to the best of your potential. She does this for you, not just for herself. Today, you make a point to thank her, every Teachers’ Day.

You apply for jobs; blurt out details after details about yourself, your passion, your ideas and your dreams before hostile interviewers. You get tired. Then, one day, you get placed. When you are promoted, your recruiter throws you a party. You learn every friend was once a stranger.

You see a first timer trying to figure out an escalator. You extend your hand; they clasp it firmly without second thoughts. They are aboard. You rise up together, and they leave with a grateful smile.
You board an auto-rickshaw, knowing nothing of the driver’s past, present or future. You speak out the unfamiliar address you have to reach.  He turns the meter down and off you go, trusting him to deliver you safely to your destination. You arrive, hand over the money and sometimes, bother to say thanks.

You ask the solitary jogger on the street for directions to a friend’s house you haven’t visited in a long time. He points you to the house, simplifying the route so you don’t get lost in the darkness of the dawn. You are glad he was passing by.  

You call up the ambulance and have no idea who picks up the phone. Within minutes, the siren is blazing at your doorstep. The doctors at the hospital manage to defeat the heart attack that almost killed your dad. They tell you timely action can save lives in most cases. You breathe a long held sigh of relief.

You make a pen-pal who lives 6000 kilometers away. You picture her going about her daily life as you bitch to her about your boss. You invite her to your wedding. You don’t really expect her to come. She shows up beforehand, to help you get prepared.

The world hinges on trust.

Yes, there are people who will abuse your faith only to bring you down and make selfish gains. Yes, there are people who will be sugarcoated pills. Yes, there will be people who can be dangerous to get close to.

Nonetheless, distrust can close windows which are actually letting light in.

That said, I am not asking you to blindly make the best of friends with strangers. I am only advising not to keep yourself locked in and label others before getting to know them.

Kindness is an inherent human virtue. Nobody is cruel by birth. Infants smile at you when you smile at them. Grown-ups aren’t that different. And, each person on the planet has their demons plaguing them, knocking the daylights out of them, plunging them into whirlpools of sorrow and despair.

So, be gentle, instead of being accusatory. Try to look a little further than the exterior and appreciate the circumstances people come from. And, most importantly, stop fearing yourself, so that you can have the courage to keep your trust in humanity, when you meet someone new… the way you already do.  J