“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
― Ernest Hemingway
I'd like to propose an experiment. I think we should plant two actors in NYC as homeless people. Let's give one a sign that says "Need money for food" and another a sign that says "Need money for beer" and see who makes more. As much as I hate to admit this, my money is on the beer guy. Literally. I am more likely to give money to a cause I totally understand than one that I am skeptical of, even if the first has more potential for good.
We are a people who do not like to feel deceived. We appreciate honesty because we live in a fear that we are constantly being lied to. We don't believe people more often than we do. If they tell us about something incredible that happened to them, we doubt. When they tell us things that seem a little outlandish, we laugh them off. When they compliment us and say something that we aren't sure we believe about ourselves, we throw it away, believing that they are merely speaking flattery or out of obligation.
And when someone says something blunt to us, we categorize their words as "refreshing".
Maybe it dates back to childhood. Or maybe it's a deep issue of insecurity. I don't really know what causes us to wonder if people are ever honest. Or worse, to assume that they are not. But we are guilty of it all the time.
We are a people of trust issues.
In a self portrait, I would love to paint myself as the type of person who has compassion. But how can we have compassion if we do not trust people? How can we feel true and sincere empathy for the struggles of someone's life if we don't think that the things they tell us are true? If someone paints a picture of a life event, but we think it to be exaggerated, how can we really feel for them and what they went through?
I suppose this is why the emphasis on integrity and genuineness are so relevant. In building up a soulful relationship, we need to be able to believe and to see and to love, and we cannot do that properly when we cannot hear each story with the innocence of a child.
I'd like to blame this problem on the people that are dishonest, but I must be honest here- in the cases in my life where this is true, I'm pretty sure the problem is not those who have lied, have broken my trust, have told a tall tale or two. The problem is me. I doubt because I have been hurt by the lies of others in the past. And I don't trust myself not to make the poor judgement call of befriending a liar again. So I give no one the benefit of the doubt. It's an internal struggle, the way I see it. We can never be truly close to someone, even the most genuine of people, if we don't learn to let ourselves believe. To hope for the best and not worry about the rest. To give to the person who might actually need food before the person who has found that perception is reality. We cannot truly give of ourselves before we give up our issues with pretenses.
Maybe this is why self-preservation is so lonely.